The E-book Skeptic
Eyes and Hands Engaged
"All reading is, as previously mentioned, multi-sensory. Of particular importance, and at the same time remarkably neglected in theories of reading, is the extent to which reading is an activity involving and requiring manual dexterity– that is, skillful handling by our fingers and hands

The reading process and experience of a digital text are greatly affected by the fact that we click and scroll, in contrast to tactilely richer experience when flipping through the pages of a print book. When reading digital texts, our haptic interaction with the text is experienced as taking place at an indeterminate distance from the actual text, whereas when reading print text we are physically and phenomenologically (and literally) in touch with the material substrate of the text itself.

…the study conducted by Morineau et al. finds that the e-book does not provide the external indicators to memory in the way that a print book does. In the e-book, the connection between the text content and the material support is split up, allowing the technological device to display a multitude of content that can be altered with a click. The book, by contrast, is a physically and functionally unitary object where the content cannot be distinguished from the material part.

The tactility of a mouse click, of touch screen page turning or of a click with the e-book page turner bar is very different from that of flicking through the print pages of a book. The feeling of literally being in touch with the text is lost when your actions – clicking with the mouse, pointing on touch screens or scrolling with keys or on touch pads – take place at a distance from the digital text, which is, somehow, somewhere inside the computer, the e-book or the mobile phone. Because of this ontological intangibility of the digital text, our phenomenological experience – reading – of the digital text will differ profoundly from that of a print text. The print text is tangible– it is physically, tactilely, graspable, in ways that digital texts are not (until they are printed out and hence no longer digital). "

Anne Mangen, "Hypertext fiction reading: haptics and immersion."
From The Journal of Research in Reading, Volume 31, Issue 4, Pages 404-419
October 2008.