Chicago-based crime writer Sara Paretsky recently learned that her publisher intends to stop sending her edits on paper; in the future, she’ll have to manage all edits electronically. This displeases her:
I think the blogosphere and 24 hour web news makes us sloppy as readers and as writers, and that going to a strictly electronic book will make books sloppier, less carefully written, less carefully edited.
Her editor tried to unruffle her feathers, and so does Kevin Guilfoile, her colleague at the Outfit blog of Chicago crime writers; in the comments responding to her post, he points out that one could always print out the manuscript in your e-mail in-box.
There are a lot of reasons to worry about the future of book publishing. An online copyflow process isn’t one of them. It’s possible to read an online galley just as carefully as any other document—as I’ve learned recently, working with an all-PDF system goes quite smoothly. Perhaps the “blogosphere and 24 hour Web news” are making us generally sloppy readers, but there’s no reason why careful writers and careful editors need to be caught up in the swim while working on the document at hand. And if a cratering publishing industry saves a small fortune on document shipping costs, so much the better.