The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 23, Number 46, November 15, 2020, Article 3


Last week readers were exposed to a work-in-progress - a potentially new format for the emailed E-Sylum, a slimmed-down "thin" version with less content in the email itself and full articles available via a link to our website. While those links were not working Sunday night, they have been available since early Monday morning. I asked some readers for their thoughts and compiled some below.

The "thin" version was initially suggested by the American Numismatic Association for the ANA Edition we were sending weekly to their members. They and their consultants thought their members found the issues too large and unwieldy. The E-Sylum is certainly different than your typical numismatic email. No question, it's huge. We developed the thin version as an experiment. It has all the same articles in the same order, but most articles are shortened to a paragraph or two of text and one or two images, followed by a "Read more here" link. This is the format used by many blog emails.

While the thin issues are certainly smaller (about half the size of a full issue) they're still large because of the ad images and the sheer number of articles each week. We started producing these in parallel with the regular version and have been archiving them since July 19, 2020 on the NBS web site. You can take a look here:

We've received feedback both in favor of and against the thin version. Some reader comments are shown below. It seems one is either a reader or a skimmer with strong feelings on either side.


Kavan Ratnatunga writes:

"I liked the slim version because I could glance through the whole issue without it being clipped by Gmail, and requiring me to reload it again as clipped"

Dave Hirt writes:

"I like the version with the Read More, because I can read more of the posts that really interest me."

Duane Feisel writes:

"For me, I think having the slimmed down version would work very well. You cover so many facets of numismatics so the issues are quite long to go through in their entirety, but not everyone is interested in the details of every topic. So I think your new approach would be favorably received by everyone.

And, once again, I am amazed with how much you put together each week!"


Rex Stark writes:

"I much prefer the original format."

Daniel Demeo writes:

"When I go to read an item, I do, but when I am finished, I hit the back button and my browser takes me back, but not to the place I was in The E-Sylum, it takes me back to my e-mail page, with my cursor ready to select the E-Sylum. I click it and then have to find the place where I was, can take a while in the issues with many articles. My work-around is to note how far I am through the issue before I select the item, and scan down to that approximate place to look for my place. I don't know if that is part of the internet, or specific to my browser, Firefox, but it is a pain. Oh well, in the pandemic, what else do I have to do except go through The E-Sylum a second time?"

Greg Burns writes:

"I can appreciate the "lot less bulk" aspect, but honestly, I never had an issue with browsing a bulky E-Sylum (I often found unexpected things of interest along the way as I scanned through it), and wonder if the truncated format will result in my missing something I might have found interesting."

Ken Berger writes:

"I vote No on the slimmed down version. Footnotes may be placed at the bottom of a page or gathered together at the end of a book. I prefer the bottom of the page. While reading, I can easily glance at the bottom of a page & then continue with my reading. Also, I can rapidly see if I should read the entire footnote (I've seen some which have been quite lengthy). None of this is possible when they are at the end of the book. Also, with footnotes at the end of the book, if I turn to them, my reading flow has been broken.

"Giving a summary & having the reader click for the complete article is similar. Some articles in The E-Sylum I read in their entirety, others I just glance over, while others I do not read at all. In many cases, it is impossible to determine which of the three categories the article fits into with just knowing the title (or even a brief summary). Likewise, clicking back & forth breaks up the reading flow. Plus it takes time. Sometimes my internet is quite slow. I don't want to have to keep clicking back & forth."

Paul Hybert writes:

"I usually read each issue from start to finish, but I start only if I have an hour or more available time. The only parts I quickly skim over are catalog numbers, weights, and provenances of pieces -- I understand why you include those items, and agree they should be included for completeness.

"I read full sentences on everything, even in the areas I do not follow, so having to follow a "Read more here" link, and then determining which leading paragraph(s) can be skipped, makes reading the "thin" version more complicated for me.

"I am a creature of habit -- I might adjust to the "thin" format, but the risk is I do not follow a link if the lead-in does not hook me, thereby depriving me of a later morsel or thought.

"When memory, storage, and bandwidth were limited, I appreciated concise emails and such in a simple format. But those resources are much more available now, so I do not see the need you are trying to meet with the "Read more here" links.

"As to the ease of reading: once the email is in my local mailbox, I can read the entire issue without needing to be connected to a network -- an active network connection will be needed to follow the "Read more here" links.

"On the E-Sylum website, will both the long and "thin" versions be available?"

Actually, the thin versions are already available on our website. If there is a large demand for it, we could set up a separate mailing list for those who prefer the thin email format. But meanwhile, we'll keep archiving the thin versions and they'll be available on our website at the same time as the issue published by email. BOTH versions will be available when the email goes out, and you can read the version of your choice with the links at the top of each issue (right after the list of article headlines). They look like this:

Click here to read this complete issue on the web
Click here to read the thin version on the web

Thanks to all of you for your feedback. I think this is a fair solution. But there is an ulterior motive beyond the traditional email we've been sending every week since September 4, 1998. "Thin" articles with a summary and "Read more here" link are more suitable for posting to social media such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Now that we can reliably create these slimmed-down articles each week, we'll be able at least in theory to post them to NBS social media accounts. Ideally, we would do that automatically so we don't need a poor overworked volunteer to laboriously cut and paste the content into posts. This will increase our reach and find more potential readers where they are.

Email is far from dead - in fact it's as popular as ever and still a great way to build and serve an audience. But to better promote numismatics it can't hurt to have exposure on multiple channels at once. Your thoughts and suggestions will be appreciated. -Editor

DWN E-Sylum ad04

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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