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How ebooks hinder the "topography" of text that our brains seek in the act of reading

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In most cases, paper books have more obvious topography than onscreen text. An open paperback presents a reader with two clearly defined domains—the left and right pages—and a total of eight corners with which to orient oneself. A reader can focus on a single page of a paper book without losing sight of the whole text: one can see where the book begins and ends and where one page is in relation to those borders. One can even feel the thickness of the pages read in one hand and pages to be read in the other. Turning the pages of a paper book is like leaving one footprint after another on the trail—there’s a rhythm to it and a visible record of how far one has traveled. All these features not only make text in a paper book easily navigable, they also make it easier to form a coherent mental map of the text.

In contrast, most screens, e-readers, smartphones and tablets interfere with intuitive navigation of a text and inhibit people from mapping the journey in their minds.

Thank goodness someone said it. I still prefer paper books.

Disagree. The reason is this...even though I love the feel of a book--as a history person I'm allergic to all the old ones, and then I never get to read them. No one can carry them around. In contrast, w the Kindle or iPhone, I have my recent library with me at all times. I can read in a line, pretend to be busy somewhere and sneak in a chapter, or if traveling, if any mood strikes me I can read that book. I have access to all the public domain classics, and it doesn't feel that different to me, because i can highlight and make notes. That's always critical to me. I thought I'd feel the same way as you did, but when I started to simplify and declutter, my books were a massive albatross. I kept a great deal--the academic and research ones I cycle thorough on an annual basis, but the rest--the ones that I can get at the library or put on Kindle, I passed along. 

I am feeling freer.... 

No reason you can't have both (except for the allergy-inducing ones).  The point the article was making is that something is lost in digital, and that something is a mental map of the page in relation to what is unique to books:  pages, heft, feel.  There is definitely a lot to recommend digital books and we know what those selling points are.  This simply points out a trade-off we (probably) hadn't considered.

You're right...I feel totally freed up by being able to bring my whole library with me. I feel like I never get to read anymore so if I can sneak some in... it's awesome. Or say "Hey look what I'm reading," to someone w/o unpacking a suitcase... 

You know what this reminds me of? The debate over handwriting. Whether we lost something in typing and losing the art of the crafted letter. What do you think along those lines?

I think you're right. 

Handwriting and paper books have a genuine quality to them that digital can't match. 

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