My own little numeracy problem

The two of you who’re reading the Retrospect series in Cites & Insights (8:12 out yesterday! Great main essay occupying most of the issue!) might be aware that I noticed a problem at some point…a “missing issue” in the scheme of things. I figured that I’d track it down and cover it in either the 9th or 10th (and final) episode.

Yesterday, in the last dreary part of closing out an issue (the dreariest: indexing; the last: making sure that copy I used isn’t still in running sections–and for Retrospect, noting which issues will be covered next time), I did the issue skeletons for both of the final episodes. (I may do them both in January 2008, because I have an idea for a special issue to come out shortly before Midwinter…we shall see.)

In the process, I tried to figure out the missing issue. Eventually, it became obvious–there was a three-issue gap in 2005 instead of the usual two-issue gap (between part 8 and part 1, that is). But where had I double-covered or otherwise screwed up?

Eventually, after printing out the whole list of volumes and issues, I figured it out:

I hadn’t double-covered. The issue count has been one low for a very long time.

Huh? That’s right: The Centenary issue was actually a celebration of doing 100 issues–the hundredth issue was February 2008.

And the Diamond Anniversary issue (April 2006) was actually Whole Number 76, not Whole Number 75.

Sigh.

Since I discovered this after publishing the current issue, I’ll leave that issue misnumbered as Issue 109, when in fact it’s Issue 110. With any luck, I’ll start numbering properly in January 2009, which should be Issue 111.

None of this makes the slightest difference to most of you, I suspect (and hope).

I could sneak around this by saying that the very first Cites & Insights wasn’t really an issue–after all, it didn’t have a volume number or issue number or date. But that would be wrong.It may have been a trial run, but it was also a real issue–actually the longest issue until 2004.

Speaking of length

For a variety of reasons, the 2008 volume is the first ever to have exactly a dozen issues. There have been more than 12 issues every other year–14 most years, 13 two years, 15 one year.

That doesn’t actually make it a smaller volume than usual.

  • Issues this year have been longer than in some other years. The total page count is 330; that’s lower than in 2006 (the highest to date) or 2007, but higher than any other years.
  • Changes in typography and overall design have resulted in slightly more efficient use of space, so there are more words per page. In fact, at 282,837 words, 2008 is the second wordiest year: Volume 6, the year with the most pages, had 279,424 words and Volume 7 had the most words (288,681).

C&I is coming up on 2,500 pages (34 to go, so probably volume 9, issue 2) and two million words (23,387 to go, so also probably volume 9, issue 2, but possibly volume 9, issue 1). Neither landmark will call for any special celebration. That will wait until the completion of a full ten years or 150 issues (counted properly)…if we make it that far.

By the way: None of these numbers include the phantom issue…which you can only obtain by buying the paperback version of Volume 7.

Now, on to cleaning up the index after taking a day off to rest up from my argument with the sidewalk last Saturday…an argument clearly won by the sidewalk. ‘Scuse me while I take some more aspirin…

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