Silly Saturday – Who Needs Numbers?

Who needs nuWho needs numbers?

Not writers, they use words, except for page numbers…

rWhen I published my first novel seven years ago on Amazon Kindle it was a miracle; I didn’t even possess a Kindle myself and had to ring our friend, who had helped initiate us into the process, to tell him it was live so he could download and see if it had ‘come out’. It was quite difficult explaining to people that my novel did not exist on paper. Of course independent authors were already self publishing real paper books by various means and with varying degrees of success. But I was not going to do anything that involved outlaying money, being conned or ending up with box loads of unwanted books in the garage. A writers’ magazine claimed that soon we would be walking into book stores, plugging in a memory stick with our novel on it and returning to collect a printed book an hour later. This hasn’t happened, but what the Amazon Elves do at their printing press, hidden somewhere in Magic Mountain, is print on demand. You can order one copy or a thousand.


Two years ago I published my first paperback at Amazon Kindle and was pleased with its appearance, now I could send a real book to my mother in Australia! Since then things have moved on and we can order author copies at cost price. I ordered one copy of ‘At The Seaside…’ it looked good, I posted it off to Australia and ordered more, gave a couple to friends, but it was not until I took a copy round to our writer friends that bad news was revealed… by the time I got home there was a message on my phone  did I know there were no numbers on the pages? Not surprisingly the others in the batch also had no numbers… Did the elves not check before the books left Magic Mountain?



This poses the question, do we need page numbers?  Cyberspouse helpfully suggested that I just put a bookmark in each copy. Books on Kindle don’t have page numbers, the pages themselves are pretend. If you change the size of the font the page alters. The bottom of the ‘page’ in the novel I’m reading on my Kindle Paperwhite tells me I have read 85% and have 45 minutes reading time left. There is a location number 3629, but I would probably forget what it was if I nudged the screen and lost my place. With real books we can see our progress, but do we notice the page numbers? It is handy if you can recall which page you were on if you lose your bookmark or if you want to look up a particular chapter.

Back at Tidalscribe Publishing House we downloaded the novel again in what we hoped was the right format, the preview showed page numbers, I ordered one copy and waited nervously…



In the meantime I took the remaining copies to writers’ group and offered them free, with the chance they might become valuable editions if I ever became famous…

…the very rare 2019  numberless edition… what am I bid?

The new version arrived in the post the other day and it did have page numbers.

Could you read a  book without page numbers?


22 thoughts on “Silly Saturday – Who Needs Numbers?

  1. To be honest, page numbers don’t bother me. If I’m reading in the Kindle app on my iPad it saves my place for me, and if I’m reading a real book my nice leather bookmark does the same job. Numbers are for sudoku and kakuro 😊

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  2. I like page numbers when I have a book in my hands. It’s a convenient way to see how far along I am. It’s certainly not a necessity, but I think we are creatures of habit. For example, I much prefer to read a physical newspaper, even though I do most of my reading online.

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  3. I like page numbers and lost out in a competition one year because my manuscript pages were not numbered. The judge did not realise they had come to the end. I don’t know if they read the pages in the right order or not. I like to know how many pages are in a book I am reading, especially when it takes 160 pages for me to decide whether I like it enough to write a review ( I didn’t and I won’t – if you can’t say anything good say nothing at all!)

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  4. Hello Julie, I think page numbers are going to win over no numbers and I always print out my manuscripts with page numbers, before editing. I can see the judge’s point of view, but I always imagine they are looking for anything to trip us up and not let us win!


  5. Funnily enough, I recently read two books by the same author the first has no page numbers which I noticed partway through the book but as I use a bookmark it wasn’t a great problem. The second book has page numbers…I am now wondering if I should mention it or not to the author.

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    1. Hello Carol, well I’m glad I’m not the only one! We just gave our friends a numberless copy when they came round for coffee and cake and asked if they could spot the deliberate mistake – they couldn’t, maybe they will when they start reading!
      I guess you could tell the author, perhaps they were blissfully unaware.

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  6. Hmm …what a great question … now that I think about it … it’s bookmarks for me too, rather than page numbers anyway … page numbers, like the chapter headings at the top of the page never really capture my attention like all those words written between the two. 🙂 … I suppose I’d miss them at first, but that’d be because of the unfamiliarity … after a, probably, very short while I wouldn’t even notice their absence at all. 😀

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  7. Well, I’m biased on this one, because I almost drove myself around the bend getting the page numbers right in all my print books. There are conventions as to which pages should have numbers and which should not. I had to learn a lot about Headers and Footers in Word and do a lot of swearing and muttering before I got it all right. And when I read print books I always notice the page numbers, probably because I seem to like really long books. Even when I enjoy reading, I check my progress regularly, especially if the book is from the library and has a due date.

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