Friday, September 09, 2005

The Death of Literary Correspondence

I read this interesting article in last Sunday's New York Times about how the use of email will be affecting literary biography. The problem, as the article indicates, is not that editors and writers are corresponding less, but that they are corresponding more - by email. And as Jonathan Galassi, the president and publisher of Farrar, Straus & Giroux points out, when email regarding the editorial process is saved, the delicious parts are often omitted. He says, "I try to save substantive correspondence about issues concerning books we're working on, or about our relations with authors, but I'm sure I don't always keep the good stuff -- particularly the personal interchanges, which is probably what biographers would relish."

On a personal note, while I was aware of the importance of saving email correspondence when I was working as a book editor, it almost always related to things that could come back and bite me later: deadlines, important decisions about the content of the book, and such. All of the interesting back-and-forth email about writerly influences, jokes, and personal details are out there floating around cyberspace.

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