August 29th, 2006

books

today's curiousity is about reading speed

At the moment, I'm contemplating my reading pile. It would be nice if I could spend several days actually just reading it straight through and catching it up. But I so rarely (almost never) read during regular business hours. Like most agents, I read on evenings and weekends and fit it in wherever I can. What I do manage to do just about the end of each month is assess where things stand, dubiously eye what our webpage touts as our response time, and attempt to remake the pile according to some sort of triage.

Luckily, I love to read. Because this pile never gets completely caught up. There are always client manuscripts (either under contract, under option, or awaiting assessment for new marketing) and non-client requested submissions (always, always, always looking for new talent). I don't include queries and unsolicited submissions in this sort of thing. Somewhere in there I'd also like to fit in reading for pleasure. You know, books with covers by authors I'm a fan of. That's one of the things that got me into this business in the first place. Plus, I keep reminding myself that I need to keep up with what's out there because it helps my overall understanding of the various genres I represent. This is not reflected in the current book on my nightstand, which I've now owned for almost 2 years and is the 3rd in a trilogy that I've always wanted to finish. A book which I am also about to set aside for a few days because there are manuscripts I really must get through.

It's a dream job. Never running out of things to read. I've always read constantly, regardless. But it's also a juggling act.... submissions, client materials, other books. I sometimes wonder how other editors and agents arrange things so they can do it all in a time that would be considered reasonable for sending responses. Clients need feedback. Non-clients don't want to wait too long for responses, either. Which brings me back to arranging things to satisfy those requirements and looking once more at what our webpage lists for response times.

And I wonder how fast everyone else reads... How quickly would they get through what is currently in my office? So, if you are so inclined, please let me know. How many pages do you read an hour and/or how many pages do you skim an hour? (I find that super-critical reading, such as what is required for editorial feedback goes more slowly than, say, just trying for content retention.) I'd also be curious to know how many books people read on average per week (for definition of book I'm going with either a full manuscript or printed book of regular adult novel length, at least 80K and up per volume). I'd sort of like to get an idea of where I fall in terms of both speed and amount consumed.

ETA: Based on some of these responses I want to add another question. How often can you get pretty much a full day to read? (Obviously the # of books per week would be skewed if one didn't have to go to a day job or whatnot.)
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