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Indexing, Tagging, and Other Locating or Scanning Devices

September 12th, 2009 | Jonathan Gray

index

I recently had the (ahem) extreme joy of going through my manuscript for Show Sold Separately: Promos, Spoilers, and Other Media Paratexts to make the index (that’s not it above — that’s a screenshot from Google Books’ copy of Watching with The Simpsons). It’s a bittersweet moment in book publishing, since it’s the last thing you need to do before you then see it as a tangible object a few months later … yet it’s not a fun task (though one can introduce very small elements of fun: check out the Dharma Initiative entry in my index to Television Entertainment for an example, or the Bill O’Reilly one in Satire TV). You could pay someone else to do it, but then you won’t see a dime of proceeds from the book, and while I’m not foolish enough to think I’ll make much money off my books, it’s nice to get at least something out of it, even if that something equates simply to a load of groceries or a nice dinner.

Indexing’s also a complex act, since you must wrestle with who you’re doing this for – yourself or others – and if you answered “others” to that question, you then need to try and predict what categories will make sense to these hypothetical readers and their interest. I thought I’d reflect a bit on that act here, while discussing other modes of memory/locating devices. More after the fold …
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