Biblical Archaeology Review 33:1, January/February 2007

First Person: The Joy of Print

The Duel Between the Web and the Page

By Hershel Shanks

In 2002 we printed our last index (through 2001) to the magazines. It was 262 pages long and was broken down by author, title and subject. At approximately 60 listings per page, this comes to a total of nearly 16,000 listings. We used to update this index every three years. Another update is long past due. But we won’t do it. We’ve printed our last (not simply most recent) index.

The reason is that our index is now on the Web. The archive on the Web is much more useful, I know. Instead of seeing a breakdown by just three categories, you can search in many ways: by a word or a pair of words, as well as by subject. And for all practical purposes, it’s instantaneous: Type a search term into your computer, and the results pop up. Moreover, at the end of the search, you don’t have to go to the shelf to find the issue you’re looking for; it, too, just pops up there on the screen in full color.

But I still like to use the printed index whenever I can. I like to hold the index in my hand. I like to see what’s around each listing on the page. I even like the smell of it.

This whole situation is symptomatic of a larger trend, however. The grip the printed page once held on learning is weakening all over—in books, news-papers and, yes, magazines too.

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