For me, the main difference between traditional and digital texts is the interaction that an author can insert. If I am reading a book/article with just plain text, I prefer a hard copy instead of a electronic copy. I prefer reading out of a traditional text, but I don’t mind reading an electronic copy. I generally prefer electronic reading if I am looking to explore hyperlinks, graphics, and research while I am reading.
Digital texts allow the reader to interact with the text; instead of just reading the information, the user can react to the information by interacting with the data. Being able to visually see what the data is helps a user understand the information because he/she can physically see the effect of the information on the situation.
Aside from graphics, digital texts, such as interactive fiction allows the user to “play” out the scenario, or put himself/herself in the character’s role. The feeling of controlling a novel makes the user feel like they are contributing more to the story rather than just reading the lives of other characters.
One quote that I think sums up the idea/definition digital and e-texts comes from the conclusion of the article “Electronic Literature: What is it?” by N. Katherine Hales:
“Exploring and understanding the full implications of what the transition from page to screen entails must necessarily be a community effort, a momentous task that calls for enlightened thinking, visionary planning, and deep critical consideration. It is in these wide and capacious senses that electronic literature challenges us to re-think what literature can do and be.”