The New Yorker today has a great post by Barry Harbaugh about the role of the book editor in book culture.
The editorial staffs of New York houses are not the faceless lemmings that a certain retail giant with a vested stake in self-publishing would have us be. And though it would appear to outsiders that the health of our careers depends solely on measurements of quantity (of the books that we acquire and the units sold), we’re not numbers-obsessed automatons. Editors edit. A lot. As a group, we’re hesitant to speak up for ourselves, lest our decorousness be tainted by saying something too self-aggrandizing. But I’ll take the risk: I probably mark up fifty to a hundred pages a week, most of it on the weekend. I ask questions and cut sentences and write chapter titles and all that stuff. The other editors at my company, and editors I know socially from other companies, are just as rigorous.