Reader question: page numbers?

A reader recently asked:

Why do novels have page numbers? Seems odd considering they’re not reference books.

My reply:

Novels have page numbers so readers can reference the text, compare notes, and share juicy quotes with each other.

For example: when I was a freshman in high school it would have been reckless to speak out loud about a certain scene in The Godfather, involving Sonny Corleone, a bridesmaid, and some explicit descriptions none of us could quite believe. But when my friends and I were crammed in my family’s station wagon, being driven to the movie by my mom, we could giggle and whisper to each other, “Think they’ll show Page 72?”

(Note: they did.)

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