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.
I used to brag that if you wanted to learn something in an understandable but reliable way about a subject falling under the rubric of Biblical archaeology, you had only one place to go: Biblical Archaeology Review. But no more. Just type in the subject and, in less than a second, Google will find thousands of sources for you to choose from. And then there are also thousands of blogs and Web sites that are available on the net (see “Archaeology Enters the Blogosphere”). Indeed, each excavation today has its own Web site. The excavators are not dependent on BAR to get their stories out.
In a way, that’s good. The more knowledge available, the better. I like to think we’re still unique: No one covers a story like BAR.
And there’s nothing like holding the magazine in your hands, leafing through the pages, looking at a gorgeous picture, reading an informative caption or randomly focusing on a book review or a letter to the editor canceling a subscription.
But there’s another downside to the availability of so much on the Internet. Simply put, it makes it much harder to pay our bills. It’s not just BAR. You read about it all over. Even newspapers like The New York Times and The Washington Post are firing (“offering packages to”) hundreds of people. Authors of what are called mid-range books are finding it increasingly difficult to find publishers for their manuscripts. Books are even beginning to be put on the Web, sometimes for free. Magazines across the board are struggling.
So we all look to the Web and the Internet to save us. The Biblical Archaeology Society, too, has an increasingly expanding Web site. Our old problem of how to squeeze more and more material into a limited number of magazine pages is not a concern on the Web; it is infinitely expandable. Instead of “When in doubt, will it fit?” the rule is “When in doubt, put it up.”
Print circulation is down everywhere, and BAR is no exception. So, like everyone, we try to make up for lost ground by making the Web a source of income. As everyone will tell you, it’s a tricky and an iffy business.
It’s no secret that our books and lectures, our tours and seminars, our Dead Sea Scroll scarves and ties and mugs, etc., etc. help us pay our magazine bills. So please think about this when you’re considering making a purchase or planning a trip. And of course many people just send us a little check when they can. (It’s even tax-deductible.)
There’s another paradox in all this: There has never been a more exciting time in Biblical archaeology. And we have never produced a more beautiful, more varied or more broadly engaging magazine. But that doesn’t mean much in this day of the Internet.
Where are we going? I’m not sure. I’ve been at this stand too long to think I know with any certainty. But I do know it’s a wonderfully exciting experience putting out this magazine and yes, even expanding our purview to this fascinating new world of the Web, a powerful learning experience for all of us engaged in it. We hope it is for all of you, too. Our goal is to take advantage of what the Web does well and use it to complement our marvelous magazine, Biblical Archaeology Review. Check out our Web site at www.biblicalarchaeology.org, and let us know how we’re doing.
In 002 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 […]