Accepted Paper:

The materiality of books and reading at home   


Anna Kajander (University of Jyväskylä)

Paper short abstract:

This presentation will discuss books, e-books and materiality of reading at home from the viewpoint of ethnological studies of material culture. What makes books significant as material objects? How are e-books changing the material aspects of reading?

Paper long abstract:

Paper books are more than media for pieces of literature. They belong to many reading situations and home interiors as material and symbolic objects. Bookshelves and beautiful book covers are used as decorative elements, and the smell of books or feel and sounds of pages belong to reading rituals. Although readers are known to consider books as meaningful artifacts, cultural aspects behind the attached meanings are not often discussed. What is it about the smells, visual elements or touchable aspects of books that make them so significant?

The question relates also to digitalisation and e-book-reading. As digital books, services and reading devices are becoming increasingly popular, the roles of printed books might be changing in everyday lives. This presentation will discuss books and e-books from the viewpoint of reading at home. It will also view the concepts of materiality and immateriality of different reading forms. New reading habits raise new questions about the changing materiality of reading, and the perspectives of ethnological studies in material culture may help to understand the change from the viewpoint of readers and focus on the cultural processes they go through when choosing the form of books they read at home.

Panel Home11
Books create a home: exploring books and reading practices as domestic symbols and rituals