Dear Miss Snark,
I am beginning the wonderful querying process and was just curious: what is the point of asking for a partial after the query letter? Other than saving all the trees that is. If an agent liked a query letter and wanted to read more, wouldn't it save time on both ends to just ask for the whole manuscript at once? She could stop reading a lousy whole manuscript just as quickly as a partial.
It's easier to ask for a partial than a full. When I ask for a full I intend to read all of it. I'm MUCH more willing to ask for partials than fulls cause I know I've only committed to reading 50 pages.
This holds true even for electronic stuff. In fact, I've found I'm much more willing to ask for partials now that they all come electronically and I don't have to deal with paper stacked up all over the place.
Then there's just the physical dimension: space is at a premium here and even if I stop reading on page 25, all 400 pages would be here, taking up space and breeding dust. I know I'll read 50 partials for every full I ask for and dealing with 49 full manscripts is just an ugly ugly thought.