Researching the Reading Experience in the Digital Age: From Print, to the Bookternet and Back Again



At this international conference we explore the latest research on reading and readers and how the area is evolving. The conference takes place on 26-28 June 2024 (conveniently scheduled before SHARP 2024).

Credit: onurdongel

In June 2013, Marianne Martens and Gitte Balling participated in an international conference called Researching the Reading Experience in Oslo, Norway, which focused on  various themes connected to reading and readers. Plotting the Reading Experience: Theory/Practice/Politics (Rothbauer, Skjerdingstad, McKechnie & Oterholm (Editors.), 2016), is an edited collection that arose from papers presented at this conference.

Since 2013, reading now takes place in print, on devices, and in a sociotechnical landscape that connects readers, publishers, authors, illustrators, librarians, booksellers, and more. We would like to use this conference to explore some of the latest research in this area, and possibly, to create new, collaborative projects as well. As with the earlier conference, an edited collection of a selection of presented papers is planned.





Call for papers

Before digital technologies enabled social reading opportunities, readers could engage in shared reading experiences by participating in literary activities and events such as reading groups, book clubs, literary festivals, and book talks. Today, these social activities still take place in person, but also in digital or hybrid spaces, and readers consume books in a sociotechnical landscape that includes multiple digital devices and a range of social media platforms.

Whether they prefer reading in print or on digital devices, readers communicate their taste across digital reading communities on social media platforms we are collectively calling the Bookternet (Ferschleiser, 2016), including #Bookstagram, #BookTube, #BookTok and more. These social platforms further change the landscape around books and readers, as information about books and readers’ taste is visibly disseminated across social media channels. 

The Bookternet has changed the way books are produced, disseminated, and consumed. Yet for readers, these platforms have created new ways to engage around the books they love as they participate in fandom and online reading communities, write peer-to-peer recommendations, or create book art in homage to their favourite titles. 

At the conference we welcome presentations from all kinds of researchers and from interdisciplinary fields. We welcome individual papers that explore the changes in the literary landscape, from historical perspectives to new forms of interactions and relations which are enabled through digital technologies. We invite submissions that address one of the following sub-themes including but not limited to: 

  • Social reading
  • Reading communities
  • Reading and affordances
  • New book consumption patterns
  • New book publishing strategies
  • Reading and materiality
  • Reader identity and self representation
  • DIY Reading culture
  • Reading and LGBTQIA+ studies perspective
  • Everyday reading practices
  • Access (or not) to books in the digital age (issues with divides, bans, etc.)


Talks and panels

We invite you to submit your 250-word abstract for a 20-minute talk. If you would like to submit a panel of multiple speakers, it should be for no more than 90-minutes including time for Q&A. Please include a short 100-word biography of speakers. 


Please submit up to a 150-word abstract and a short 100-word biography. 

Due date

Please submit your abstracts and biographies by 31 January 2024 to Decisions will be made by the organizers by 15 March 2024.

Read the call in PDF format.



Credit: Zarko Ivetic

Gitte Balling, PhD, is associate professor at Copenhagen University, Department for Communication. Her research interests pivot around reading, media and young people with a special interest in digital reading and reading communities. Her research is focused on materiality and the way different reading materials (print vs reading) influence the reading experience. Her research further includes issues related to cultural politics and public libraries promotion of literature and supporting of reading motivation. She has written several articles on reading and digital reading, especially regarding young people, and on cultural policy with focus on children. Read more about Gittes research.

Marianne Martens, PhD, is Professor at Kent State University’s School of Information. Her research examines the interconnected fields of young people’s literacy, youth services librarianship, and publishing for young people from historical perspectives, to a special focus on digital youth. Here, her research interests converge at the intersection of books and technology in new literary formats and include the impact of digital reading experiences and the multiliteracies required to interpret nonlinear, multimodal materials, as well as visible reading audiences, and the information they share. She is the author of Publishers, Readers and Digital Engagement: Participatory Forums and Young Adult Publishing (Palgrave Macmillan), and The Forever Fandom of Harry Potter: Balancing Fan Agency and Corporate Control (Cambridge University Press). Read more about Marianne.