Copyediting.com recently posted a tip on how to cite a book read on a Kindle or other similar e-reader,1 noting that with the lack of page numbers in such electronic editions this was a “peculiarity” that editors could use guidance on. They provided the guidance offered by the Chicago Manual of Style and the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. They noted that the AMA Manual of Style was “quiet on the subject.”
Not liking to remain quiet for long, Stacy Christiansen, our manual’s “Tweeter,” sent a tweet2 using the same example used in the Copyediting.com tip. To wit:
Barr C; senior editors at Yahoo. Shape your text for online reading. In: The Yahoo Style Guide. Kindle ed. New York, NY: St Martins Griffin; 2010.
Tweets don’t allow much space to delve into the finer points, such as how multiple specific citations in this book could be referenced in a single manuscript, which would also help readers who are not seeking the citation on a Kindle find the specific citation. Here is a little more information for a more specific citation, indicating not only the chapter name but also the paragraph number within the chapter:
Barr C; senior editors at Yahoo. Shape your text for online reading. In: The Yahoo Style Guide. Kindle ed. New York, NY: St Martins Griffin; 2010:¶1.
An article in the New York Times3 indicated that this question is of interest to more than manuscript editors—for example, to members of a book group, some of whom read the book under discussion in print and others of whom read it on an electronic reader, but all of whom want to be able to be “on the same page” when they are discussing the book. Furthermore, this desire has been taken seriously by Amazon, which markets the Kindle. The article noted that the Kindle “will now supplement its ‘location numbers’ with page numbers that correspond to physical books.”
Bravo, we might say. The author of the article, however, offers a different perspective by saying that the attempt to “incorporate cues to keep people grounded in what has come before [eg, the page number] or scrap convention completely” is a dilemma for designers of these new technologies. So, as we leap to the future, some of us still find it useful to keep one foot in the not-so-distant past. And there’s a word for that (also noted in the article): skeuomorphs. Long may we live and long may we leap (with glee but caution).—Cheryl Iverson, MA
1. Nichols W. Copyediting Tip of the Week: Citing electronic editions. Copyediting blog. Posted January 18, 2011. http://www.copyediting.com/copyediting-tip-week-citing-electronic-editions. Accessed May 7, 2012.
2. To cite an e-reader. http://twitter.com/AMAManual/status/32154562768928768. Posted January 31, 2011. Accessed May 7, 2012.
3. Brustein J. Why innovation doffs an old hat: Breakthroughs like the Kindle and the iPad retain cues to keep users grounded in what came before. New York Times. February 13, 2011;Week in Review:2.