What is it about round numbers? Why is the year 2000 more significant than 1989 or 2002. Why are ten, twenty, or fifty year anniversaries significant landmarks, where nine, nineteen, and even sixty year anniversaries, aren’t?
Round numbers fascinate people, even scare them. Some people thought the Apocalypse would occur when the calendar turned to 1000, some had similar thoughts in 2000, despite the millennia not starting until 2001. 2001, just doesn’t have the same power. Lots of zeros captivate the imagination and grip us with mystical importance. A million dollars is oh so much better than nine hundred and ninety-nine. Can anyone imagine the Barenaked Ladies singing, “If I had nine hundred and ninety-nine dollars?”
It makes no rational sense. If we used a base-twelve system everything would be different. But here we are ogling multiple zeros as if they were Hooters’s waitresses. Knowing it is completely arbitrary doesn’t help, the siren sound of the aughted milestone is irresistible.
I offer this explanation for the unbridled rapture my wife and I experienced when in December, in the single month, I sold 10,000 books.
This contest came down to the last few days of the month. Robin checked the sales like a woman watching a horserace. I did not actually hear her, but I can imagine she was slapping her laptop and screaming, “Com’on, Crown Conspiracy! Move your butt!” It simply would not have bode well for 2011 if we sold 9,999 by the close of 2010.
As it happens we actually sold 10,526 by the end of the month, but we celebrated when the four zeros rolled up. So Riyria smashed the record, crossed the finish line and gave us another reason to make noise on New Year’s Eve.
Happy New Year, everyone