Sunday, November 07, 2004

Outdated

As I sank deep in a comfortable sofa in my neighborhood Barnes & Noble reading a reference book about literary agents, it suddenly occurred to me that some information in the book is outdated. The book claims to be freshly edited and valid until 2005, but the fact of a recent merger of several prominent literary agencies is not included in the book; instead, the old addresses of the no-longer-in-existence agencies are listed. The reason? The book probably went into print prior to March of this year when the agencies formally merged.

This is a critical issue for the book industry, impacting mostly non-fiction titles. The traditional manner in which a book is put out by the publishing establishment now seems snail-paced in this age of instant online gratification, in which news items are posted almost immediately after the incidents took place. More and more, we're going to have embarrassed authors having to answer the readers who find the information in their books either outdated or plain inaccurate because of the long period of time passage from getting a nod from the publisher to having the books in the stores. Some "quickie" publishing outfits claim they can put a book out in three months. Three months? That's one whole software generation in this dot-com era.

If you are a novelist, luckily, you're spared of this modern phenomenon.

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