Canaries in a coalmine: The index and the page in ebooks

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The invention of the page is a major milestone in the history of book technology. Consider the transition from the scroll to the codex (the printed book as we know it today) to the electronic book (ebook). Scrolls could be as long as ten metres and were continuous script without page breaks or page numbers. The concept of pagination was introduced with the codex, which is the Latin word for "a plurality of tablets or for multi-leaved tablets," and enabled a new reading experience that allowed people to jump into the text at different points and to use a book in a nonlinear way. The first paginated books gradually replaced the scroll from as early as the second century. As page numbers came into common use in the early sixteenth century, book indexes also developed. However, the development of the ebook is leading us back to the beginning, to the use of a scroll-like format in ebooks without pages. The development of the index is linked to this new phase in book technology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-78
Number of pages10
JournalScript and Print
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jan 2019


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