I notice reading of papers is much more prevelent @ Humanaties and Social Science conferences than at science conferences. I THINK its because the arts cant distract people with pretty figures. As a drama teacher as well as an academic whose area crosses between the arts and the sciences…I find it REALLY REALLY frustrating. Eye contact is vital to keep your audience engaged, even if they do know the work.
I have NO problem with the actually reading a paper they have written, provided its written to be spoken and they dont drop their head down and read it verbatium.
(Sorry, one of my pet HATES that always get me ranting).