New pencils are sold both sharpened and unsharpened. The major European manufacturers (Staedtler, Faber-Castell, Derwent, Lyra, Stabilo, etc.) all typically sell their pencils pre-sharpened. In contrast, the Japanese (Kita-Boshi, Pentel, Mitsubishi, Tombow) and American (Sanford, Dixon) manufacturers generally sell pencils unsharpened. There are of course exceptions.
Pre-sharpening can provide a convenience factor to consumers. But it also has drawbacks – the pencils are more likely to get broken in transport from store to home/office. As well, the angle of sharpening might be different than that provided by your preferred sharpener, and require a couple of unideal sharpenings before it’s right.
It also deprives one of the pleasant sharpening ritual, the defined initiation of a new pencil.
On the plus side, a pre-sharpened pencil is instantly useable, and sharpeners aren’t always at hand or convenient to use. The factory sharpening could be viewed as a small courtesy towards the customer.
So what do you prefer? Feel free to leave a comment as well as vote in this poll.