Monday, 26 January 2009

Do editors read?

The title of this post might at first glance seem monumentally stupid. Of course editors read - it's a major part of their job, but that's not what I mean.

Let's draw a parallel for a moment. There's a show on the TV that every now and then asks movie actors what was the best film they've seen that year. And quite often, actor after actor admits they, erm, haven't really seen many movies.

What I'm wondering is, do editors curl up with a good book in the evening? Not one of their own - they've read their titles to death - but books in general, just like a 'normal' person.

The reason I ask is that I can imagine that editors might have had enough reading in their day job... and yet, surely editors need to have their fingers on the pulse of the book market, and to have read the competition and know what they're up against? It's an interesting conundrum. (Nice word, conundrum.)

4 comments:

  1. My answer is - not nearly as much as I should like (BTW, Amazon FINALLY delivered 'Upgrade Me', many weeks after I'd ordered it. Actually, they delivered 2 copies so I gave one to our book review editor. One lives in hope).

    In addition to Nature manuscripts and SF submissions for Nature's Futures column, I've read three (3) books for the purposes of reviewing them, but only one purely for pleasure, and that was 'The Ode Less Travelled' by Stephen Fry, which is nonfiction. The last actual novel I read was Jennifer Rohn's Experimental Heart - which I'd have read anyway, but that was also for a review. These days I only get to read books on the train, a precious time when I could be more profitably (a) working (b) sleeping.

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  2. So that's one editor who doesn't - though to be fair, for those who don't know him, Henry is a journal editor, not a book editor.

    What I was particularly wondering is if those who edit books get time to read books. If they don't because they haven't time/get read-out at work, will they gradually drift out of synch with the market? Should all editors have a month's reading break each year to read up what their competitors have been publishing?

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  3. Your comments need not apply only to those editors that don't read. What about professional chefs who don't cook at home, accountants who dont manage their home finances, bankers who go bankrupt, cobblers who have holes in their shoes,and so on. It's simply that a professional doesn't always take the time to practice their art at home.

    Maybe there'a a bigger theme here about the meaning of employment in the context of leisure time - rather than the other way round.

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  4. You're right Ian - though it's more a case of chefs who don't eat at other people's restaurants. The point I was trying to make is if the only books an editor reads are his/her books, how do they keep up with the market?

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