I’ve just come back from New York and an interesting conversation with my agent, who has been in the business thirty years. She asked me to send my next manuscript to her either PDF or as a word document because she was going to read it on her Sony Reader. She said that many publishing houses have bought their editors Sony Readers (Amazon has the Kindle) and that no one is lugging around big manuscripts anymore. Piles of paper are disappearing.
I asked her if reading on a Reader would be different from the flat page, and she said she didn’t know. I don’t like scrolling back to find something, am more comfortable with turning pages. I don’t like reading anything long on the computer. Is it all a matter of perception and use and custom? School children in some districts get more and more material digitally. Ten to fifteen years ago my son never thought of opening an encyclopedia but went regularly to the Internet for research.
My agent doesn’t see the end of books as we know them, but she does say that publishing is floundering as sales and reading habits shift and change. Perhaps hard covers might become a thing of the past, as people don’t want to lug around heavy books and have the option not to. I don’t know how this affects me as a writer. It feels strange to be fretting over a Louis XIV plot line during this tense election and economic times anyway. I’m guessing there will always be a market for good stories; it is the presentation of them to readers, or maybe the scope of presentation, that changes. Certainly the way one submits a manuscript is. Wow.