- Editors' Note
Based on our current institutional subscriptions, you are seven to ten times more likely to be looking at a screen than at a page when consulting Biography—and that probably underestimates the dominance of online use. One of the side benefits of appearing on Project Muse and other online delivery sites has been much better information about how often we are being read, and also which parts of the journal draw the largest readership.
To begin with, we know that a lot of people are looking at Biography—probably in the neighborhood of 80,000 hits a year, based on 2007. We also know that our Annual Annotated Bibliography of Life Writing is the most used part of the journal. Out of our top ten "articles" last year, six were installments of this Bibliography, stretching back to 2000—2001. Reviewed Elsewhere is also very popular: nine of our top fifty articles are quarterly installments of that feature. And finally, our special issues draw a great deal of attention. Twenty-five of our top fifty articles came from these annual Winter volumes. If you've done the math, you'll therefore realize that only ten of our top fifty articles are actually articles or reviews from the three "regular" issues each year.
The topics of our most heavily-used essays often reflect the technology readers employ to consult them. Some of our most popular articles explore virtual life writing—internet diaries, blogs, personal websites—and appeared in the special issue on Lives Online, edited by John Zuern. Articles about the visual dimensions of life writing also draw people's attention—our two special issues on the Biopic, edited by Glenn Man, and on Self-Projection and Autobiography in Film, edited by Linda Haverty Rugg, are heavily consulted. But the political and cultural dimensions of life writing also provoke keen interest. Seven of our top fifty essays come from Cindy Franklin's and Laura Lyons's special issue on Personal Effects: The Testimonial Uses of Life Writing. And seven years after its appearance, Autobiography and Changing Identities, co-edited by Susanna Egan and Gabriele Helms, still draws many readers—nine of our top fifty essays are from that collection.
Instantaneous access through the internet paradoxically contributes to an article's longevity. It generally takes readers time to find an article or a special issue, although we'd like to think that it actually takes people a while to catch up to where the field is heading. In any case, there's no question that our online presence not only keeps the back issues alive, but that the search engines now available have created a thousand new routes for people to follow to our virtual pages. [End Page iii]