As davis S. Miall put it, alternative models of what it means to read a literary text are abundant in the theoretical literature. The little empirical work that has taken place, however, suggests that a central characteristic of reading a poem or a novel is a transformation process, in which what the reader knows or feels undergoes a change in the course of reading.
This contrasts with other types of reading, from newspaper articles to instruction manuals, which generally appear to be cumulative, consisting of a process of conceptual model building. The latter process can clearly be simulated more easily by computer: the typical hypertext system, which provides annotations and links to related documents, enables a reader to elaborate a view of a target domain in this way. Thus a literary text can be surrounded by various supporting contexts that will enhance a reader's knowledge and understanding of it, but this is not the same process as the encounter with the primary text !