Book publishers still use paper galleys? Really?

It's been a while since I was an editor at a traditional print publisher, and whenever I talk to friends who still work in that world, or read about it, I marvel at how little has changed. I'm not usually surprised, per se - continuity, for many of these folks, including the people who run most houses, is one of the selling points of print publishing. But occasionally I do happen on some bit of trivia that's smack-me-in-the-face stunning. Such as the fact, which I just learned, that most book publishers still use physical galleys, to let authors and editors make corrections before sending a title to press. Wow. They're still paying all that money to ship the things around to authors and copyeditors and back? Having to store them and make sure not a page is lost or misplaced? Having to decipher the scratchings of several different people, on every galley?

Indeed they are, according to this Digital Book World post, by Susan Ruszala, the marketing director of NetGalley. The post is worth reading, by the way, as evidence of how slowly print pub houses are changing, and how hard it is to lead them to do things they should have done 15 years ago - such as switch to virtual galleys, either generated and tracked in-house, or provided by a service such as NetGalley. The post is also a masterpiece of therapeutic-level coddling - Ruszala understands that you don't just have to lead this parched-from-thirst horse to water, you have to stroke his mane lovingly, coo in his ear... and resist the urge to punch him in the face and scream, "DRINK, YOU DUMBSHIT!" To wit, this passage, which could be summarized as "Duh!":

Think back to when company websites first became standard practice.

Before there was the corporate website, there was the corporate brochure. Carefully crafted, reflective of its values, glossy, and artistic — and also extraordinarily constrained, expensive to produce, and quickly outdated. Today my safe guess is that there are very few corporate brochures produced solely to deliver information about a company. They are marketing pieces designed to impress; more experiential than informational.

A website, on the other hand, delivers both a visual impression and deep information about a company; it is only limited by how easy it is for visitors to navigate the site.

This is exactly where we are with digital galleys.