John Moore, in Correspondence (Nature 433, 800; 2005 10.1038/433800a) may be right that online submission makes authors produce their own manuscripts and figures, but the evidence is that they overwhelmingly prefer this to other means.
My company is conducting a survey, commissioned by the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers, of recently published authors, using a sample provided by ISI. Of the 442 responses received to date, more than 80% say that online is easier than hard-copy submission. A similar number prefer online submission to any other method, and 36% say that the lack of an online system would influence them against submitting to a journal.
Respondents named a number of benefits including faster responses, shorter refereeing times, greater transparency and convenience. They did perceive areas for improvement, particularly in ease of use, system performance and flexibility, but overall they think the benefits greatly outweigh the problems.
Further, the editors and publishers we have surveyed say that the introduction of online systems leads to an increase in submissions from less-developed regions.
The full report is due to be published at the end of April.
Nature surveys all its authors immediately after publication to ask about their experience, in order to improve our services. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any comments.