I'm still on vacation in CA and am recovering from Thanksgiving, but wanted to give a quick shout-out to the Sony Reader. Right before I left for vacation, my company passed out 50 Sony Readers throughout different departments, and I was one of the lucky volunteers selected for the trial. We're testing the usability of the Readers, and also to see how they helps in terms of saving paper and money when it comes to reading manuscripts.
Well, I love it so far. Most agents nowadays prefer sending submissions electronically, and while I generally tell them, when given the choice, that my preference is still receiving a hard copy, it certainly saves time and shipping costs to email. In the past, when I've received an emailed submission, I've forwarded it on to our receptionist to print out and log in. Apparently, each 400-page novel that we print out costs the company $7, not including the environmental impact. And this is such a waste, especially considering that the entire manuscript might not get read (for the record, I tend to give a novel at least 30 pages to pull me in, but if it doesn't do it for me by then, I stop reading). Every time we bring a manuscript to our acquisitions meeting, we copy and distribute approximately 20 copies. That's $140, and 8,000 sheets of paper (is my math correct?). That's crazy.
We're trying to go Green. Or, at least greener. And I think this is a great first step. I loaded up my reader with a bunch of novels in anticipation of my vacation--it takes Word documents, in Rich Text Format. No longer am I lugging heavy, bulky manuscripts across the country in my suitcase. All I have is a very portable, attractive gadget. The screen is great, you can read it in sunlight, I've read one and a half manuscripts so far, and it hasn't bothered my eyes one bit. In fact, I often bring my hand to the top corner of the machine, forgetting that I need to push a button to turn the page.
I'm in love.
A few wishes: that there was a backlight so I could read in the dark, that the pages loaded a tiny bit faster (although it's not bad at all), that the page turn buttons were a little bigger, that I could actually edit the file on screen--then I could use the Reader not just for reading submissions, but for actual editing as well. Maybe in the future...
I'm curious--has anyone else used an ebook reader? Any other publishing folks starting to use them? There's been some recent buzz about Amazon's Kindle as well. My assistant and I had lunch with an agent recently who told us that all of the agents in her company use ebook readers now. She loves it, too. I don't know if the Reader will replace actual books for me, at least not for a while, but as for manuscript submissions? I'm ready to get rid of them immediately. The hard copies, I mean. ;)