Category Archives: Reading for pleasure

5 Lessons for libraries from the world of retail

It is a great relief that the digital versus print debate is becoming a thing of the past and our discussions are becoming far more nuanced. Siôn Hamilton has captured some important aspects of this nuance in an article he recently wrote for, “What 15 years at Foyles taught me about the future of bookselling” (June 21, 2017). While retail and libraries do differ profoundly in purpose, philosophy and method, Hamilton brings a number of critical insights about the nature of human experience, discovery and the pleasure of reading a physical book, that are relevant to both book stores and libraries.

There is no doubt that digital technologies have shaken the publishing world to its core and transformed our reading habits. Gaming, social media, ebooks, online shopping, smartphones and tablets, home delivery, search engines, curation algorithms, advertising algorithms, big data, physical books, and most significantly, the almost infinite ways that all these media are interconnected continue to make change the only constant. Hamilton cuts through this swirling world of publishing and retail to offer some insights that have implications for libraries.

Lesson 1 : good design

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Recreational reading = play = action

The National Library of New Zealand describes recreational reading as an “act of play“. Recreational reading is reading that we select for ourselves with no reports, no grading, no rewards or comprehension tests (Krashen, 2004).

“According to Nell (1988), reading for pleasure is a form of play that allows us to experience other worlds and roles in our imagination. Holden (2004) also conceived of reading as a “creative activity” that is far removed from the passive pursuit it is frequently perceived to be. Others have described reading for pleasure as a hermeneutic, interpretative activity, which is shaped by the reader’s expectations and experiences as well as by the social contexts in which it takes place (e.g. Graff, 1992).”

Clark, Christina, and Kate Rumbold, 2006

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