Reading in a post-textual era

  • Miha Kovač University of Ljubljana
  • Adriaan van der Weel


This paper analyses major social shifts in reading by comparing publishing statistics with results of empirical research on reading. As media statistics suggest, the last five decades have seen two shifts: from textual to visual media, and with the advent of digital screens also from long-form to short-form texts. This was accompanied by new media-adequate reading modes: while long-form content invokes immersed and/or deep reading, we predominantly skim online social media. Empirical research on reading indicates that the reading substrate plays an important role in reading processes. For example, comprehension suffers when complex texts are read from screens. This paper argues that media and reading trends in recent decades indicate broader social and cultural changes in which long-form deep reading traditionally associated with the printed book will be marginalised by prevailing media trends and the reading modes they inspire. As these trends persist, it may be necessary to find new approaches to vocabulary and knowledge building.

Author Biographies

Miha Kovač, University of Ljubljana
Professor of publishing Ssudies at the University of Ljubljana
Adriaan van der Weel
Bohn Extraordinary Professor of Book Studies at the University of Leiden
How to Cite
Kovač, M., & van der Weel, A. (2018). Reading in a post-textual era. First Monday, 23(10).