Monday, November 26, 2007

I love my Sony Reader

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. ;)


Anonymous said...

Alvina, I do a lot of reading on my PDA--I have a converter that allows me to change Word docs to eBook format. I seem to go in phases with reading on that little screen--on the one hand, it's great that I always have a manuscript with me if I'm stuck with an unexpected long wait somewhere. On the other hand, if it's something that needs a lot of flipping back and forth, it gets tiresome, and I put it aside and finish it on my laptop or with a hard copy. I can make notes in the eBook file, but they don't convert back to Word (at least, not that I've figured out), so I still have to take an extra step with that if I have notes to pass along. I've thought about getting a Word for Palm application so I can make notes and convert the file back to Word for returning to the writer/client, but haven't made that step.

Now, I love reading books on audio, too, and the thought has crossed my mind more than once that I should ask a couple of clients a month to record their manuscripts so I can listen to them...probably too much to ask, though!


Chris Barton said...

"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."

But Little, Brown is using one-billionty percent post-consumer recycled paper, right?

Meghan McCarthy said...

This is an intersting post since Newsweek did a big story on it and I think I heard talk about it on NPR--was it NPR? B&N has also been talking about it.

Personally, I HOPE books don't die. I like to hold them, put them on my shelves, etc. I will say that I'm running out of space and really I don't NEED the novels there. The art book collection is here to stay and the picture books aren't going anywhere!


Christine Tripp said...

Had not heard of the Sony Reader, is this only useful for text or can an editor view a dummy with sketches? As an Illustrator I have often tried to peak interest in viewing dummy's on-line, via a private page of my web site and have not found success. To me, it makes so much sense to supply an AD or ED with a link where they can preview a "submission" at lesiure without the waste of paper, SASE etc.
With the advent of this reader, perhaps other on-line submission options will open up.
I never worry that ebooks will replace a physical book Meghan, it's just not the same, snuggled up in bed with your little one and the lap top:)
Christine Tripp

alvinaling said...

You can't edit, but you can view black and white images--but it would have to be in a Rich Text Document. So I imagine you can view dummies/images. I also just added a comment on Anna's post above regarding the screen/experience. I've snuggled up in bed with my Sony Reader, and it's a satisfying experience. ;)

And as for the recycled paper...Chris, I honestly don't know the answer to that.

Anonymous said...

not a comment, but a question, i was trying to read a large pdf file on the reader but in the conversion the font size becomes very small and the reader can't make it much larger (only 2 levels of magnification small and medium)---what format are the manuscripts in?


Anonymous said...

I know this post is WAY old, but if you're still reading it, you may be interested to know that Sony has a very cute solution to 'reading in the dark' :

As for me, I'm hoping Santa will bring me a Reader for Christmas!