Good Question:

I've wondered this too.

If citation rules were rational, law reviews would have much less work to do.
7.30.2005 4:35pm
John Jenkins (mail):
What's irrational about citation rules? Inefficient maybe, but they appear to be rational (insofar as they are consistent; some of the inconsistencies might be irrational).
7.30.2005 5:06pm
Zywicki (mail):
Law reviews actually get a point here by not requiring the city of publication.
7.30.2005 5:17pm
Maniakes (mail) (www):
I've wondered, too. My best guess is so if you are having trouble finding a copy of the cited book, you know which city's phone book to use to look up the publisher, so you can call the publisher and order a copy.
7.30.2005 5:54pm
Andrew E. Adel (mail):
My guess was always that some publishers may publish different editions from different cities. So seeing "London:" instead of "Boston:" would let you know that you are looking at the British edition of the text.

What I've always wondered is, why does the copyright page of a book often contain things like, "1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10"?
7.30.2005 6:47pm
Hattio (mail):
I'm curious how far back citing the city goes. Perhaps at one point in time it was also an indicator of quality. I would imagine that Boston, Philiadelphia and New York were much harder to get books published in than some of the smaller cities in early years.
7.30.2005 6:57pm
Baronger (mail) (www):
I always assumed it was to aid in finding a copy of the book. If the book turned out to be rare, and the publisher obscure, this might be the only way to track down a copy to reference.

Ditto on the : 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 1 2 3

What the heck is that for?
7.30.2005 7:03pm
I believe the classic anti-bluebooking screed is Posner's Goodbye to the Bluebook, 53 U. Chi. L. Rev. 1343 (1986).

Though it is nice that the bluebook at least doesn't make you mention the city. I think the underlying problem is that there is a lot of resistance to any change to "less rigorous" (though more rational) citation systems.
7.30.2005 7:21pm
Joe Zwers (mail):
The 1-10 numbering shows how many times that book has been printed. The numbers are all put on the printing press plate in the beginning. Then, if the book is reprinted, the number 1 is scratched off. If it is printed again using the same plate, the #2 is scratched off, and so on. Pick some books in your library which are likely to have gone through more than one press run - say a dictionary or a popular novel - and you will find some of them are missing some of those numbers.
7.30.2005 7:37pm
D. Rorbacher (mail):
I am a professor of Classics, and when I see a footnote to a Latin dissertation published in Germany in 1887, the now-defunct publisher isn't important, but the city can help when it comes to tracking it down. When the citation rules were made up everybody really cared what we classicists found useful.
7.30.2005 7:58pm
JohnO (mail):
I know it's "fashionable" to say that you don't care about citation form, but it drives me crazy when associates give me work with incorrect citation form. If there's a rule, you might as well do it right instead of doing it wrong, even if you think the rule's dumb (please, PLEASE, put a space between the F. and the Supp.). Maybe its the law review managing editor in me.
7.30.2005 8:25pm
Ted (www):
As long as we're going off-topic on citation format, you know what bugs me? The damn automatic superscripts in MS Word. I could never get the associates working for me to turn those things off.
7.30.2005 8:36pm
John Jenkins (mail):
JohnO, it's a good bet those associates learned the ALWD citation system where F.Supp. is correct because there is a general rule in court abbreviations where a single letter abbreviation like F. is not followed by a space, thus "F.Supp." or "U.S." but "Conn. Super."

Having wasted my 1L year learning the ALWD system that no one I file anything with follows (Oklahoma courts use Bluebook or public domain citations, and federal courts use Bluebook), I know all too well how hard it is to unlearn. Our LRW&A program uses the ALWD, but the law review uses Bluebook. Pure silliness.

Ted, have your IT department make that the default in a new profile.
7.30.2005 8:48pm
Andrew E. Adel:
Joe Zwers: fascinating, that answers a lifelong question.

Ted: The superscripts are bad; just make sure they aren't filing any 12© motions for judgment on the pleadings.

John Jenkins: ALWD requires a space between the F. and the Supp.
7.30.2005 9:27pm
John Jenkins (mail):
I'll have to take your word for it. That's not how we were taught, but I threw away my ALWD manual when I finished that useless LRW&A class.
7.30.2005 9:30pm
Joe Zwers, other bibliophiles:

The very first book I picked up has the following text on the copyright page:

6 7 8 9 0 FGR/FGR 0 9 8 7 6 5 4

What the heck does that mean? The 0th edition?
7.31.2005 1:36am
Buck Turgidson (mail):
On the 9 8 7 6 5 etc.:

The differences between printings are not trivial. They often include corrections, which is why it is important to have this information internally. For example, a math textbook may have some errors in the first three printings that are corrected in the fourth. So if you pick up a book and see 09876, you know that the corrections have been made.

On the double sequence, I have only seen that in special cases. The ones that I saw consisted of two parts. This is particularly common in teacher's editions of textbooks. For example, if, in the aforementioned math textbook, you find 890//09876543, it would mean that the book contains teacher edition text from 8th printing and it is based on the 3rd printing of the student edition. Since teacher editions are not printed in as large quantities as student editions, it is possible for the current teacher ed printing to still contain errors that might have already been corrected in the current student ed. As far as the example you cite is concerned, Ii have no idea what it is, but I'd bet it has two parts--one in 4th printing and one in 6th.
7.31.2005 4:18am
erp (mail):
It won't be long before this discussion will really be an academic exercise and up-to-date everything and anything will be available at the click of your finger tips, not in musty books, and papers will be automatically formatted to suit the internet with no help from the writer.

Then only old fuddy duddy editors (no offense intended as I put myself is this category as well) will care about correct usage and quaint ideas about a book being "printed" in a specific city.

I can't remember when I didn't have my laptop at arm's length ready to gooogle or jot down notes and my handwriting has atrophied almost to my little toddler grandchildren's scribblings, and although I wouldn't want to go back, I still love my old books. I have a collection of old dictionaries and found a local person who will rebind them. What a treasure they are.
7.31.2005 11:56am
It's certainly true that for rare works, the city of publication can be invaluable. Historians of Chinese law, for example, occasionally have to deal with missionary publications from the nineteenth century.

Nineteenth-century law is not as dead as one might think -- Hong Kong common law still uses it.

Still, for any university press, it's silly. Particularly since it is often impossible to tell where the book was printed as presses have offices in several cities.
7.31.2005 6:02pm
Guest (mail) (www):
John Jenkins: You should have sold it to some unsuspecting 1L. TU students need to save money.
7.31.2005 11:07pm