Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Death of the Page Number
Sunday I had a pretty calm day. Moving was close enough to being over that I could suspend it for a day or so. I've got a hole in my shin, so I was supposed to be taking it easy, anyway. I hung out on my patio, waiting to welcome birds to my new birdfeeder, and reading the Sunday Washington Post. I got to The Washington Post Magazine, which I try to read pretty regularly, but usually end up just reading the restaurant review, and skimming over the Editor's Query, sometimes checking out the disastrous Date Lab (starting from the Update at the bottom, which is always a variation of, uh, this isn't gonna work out at all).

This week, I had some time, though, and noticed some interesting articles. An article about Simeon Booker, a journalist, began on page 20. Except there was no page 20. There was a page 5, and a page 6 and 8, but then no more page numbers until 33, which was followed by 34 and 35. Then 37 through 40. That's it. A 44-page publication with 10 page numbers. What the hell?

Of course, I was able to find the Booker article, and was able to follow along when it was continued on page 32, which, you know, kind of didn't exist, but I was able to tell that I was there when I came across the page that said on the top that it was continued from page 25, which is I guess where I had been, and, hey, thanks for letting me know about that.

There's got to be a reason for this, right? I've been involved enough in publishing that it would be a pretty big oversight to let something go to press without page numbers. I guess it could have been a trimming error, but if that's the case, I wouldn't think there would have been any page numbers at all. So I have to assume that it was done intentionally. Is it the publisher's way of making the reader go through the magazine page by page, so you see every ad? Clever. But still kind of insulting. It's only 44 pages, don't most people that read it go through virtually the whole thing anyway? Why even have page numbers on the Table of Contents, directing you to a page number that's not there? That's just mean.

This isn't the first time I've been frustrated by page numbers. Try finding an article in one of those really big editions of Vanity Fair (Yeah, Vanity Fair, I know. But it's not just about people with rich parents -- this month there was an article about The Simpsons! And Sly Stone!). Try even finding the Table of Contents, actually. I know that the Vanity Fair people are trying to force you to look at their ads, most featuring ridiculous looking models promoting stuff that, if you can figure out what it is, is affordable primarily to people who are too busy making money to care about The Simpsons or Sly Stone.

Maybe publishers in 2007 are just too cool for page numbers. Is wanting to be able to navigate your way through a magazine too controlling, is it not hip?

If that's the case, then I apologize.

1 comment:

Ed. said...

My pet peeve, this week anyway, is when that Last Page article - usually something light or humorous - goes longer than a page and they have to continue it on an earlier page. Which you come across before you get to the last page, by definition. I don't know why, but I don't like it one bit.