by Rebecca Bynum
Lately I've noticed that publishers seem to be waging a war on footnotes. A few years ago, footnotes were moved to the end of the chapter and now many publishers are moving them all to the end of the book - out of sight and out of mind. Why? Are publishers afraid that footnotes will put people off somehow?
Footnotes are essential to a scholarly work and add an entire dimension of their own with additional, often very interesting, information that helps to illuminate the text. When footnotes are hidden from the reader, the reader loses that extra dimension and it makes it very hard to gauge the scholarship of the work without easy access to the footnotes. Publishers used to understand this. What is going on?
New English Review Press will never surrender! Our footnotes are displayed proudly at the bottom of the page. We will never dumb down our books. Not now. Not ever.
Please add to the complaints list the departure from indenting the first line of paragraphs. I would also like to see an intelligent discussion regarding use of 'their self' and 'their selves' in place of the grammatically grotesque 'themself' and 'themselves'.
One advantage of endnotes over footnotes—whether the notes are clumped at chapter ends or gathered at the back of the book—is that one may glance over the entire array of references, often a very telling shortcut to assessing a scholarly book's general temper and quality. Having to turn every leaf to see what the author has read makes this cumbersome. I love the charm of footnotes—the reassuring sediment of erudition sifting to the bottom of the page can be delicious, especially in older books. But I wonder if other readers share my sense of this one advantage of endnotes. As for publishers who, opting for endnotes pooled at the end of the book, fail to include headers indicating the text's page numbers to which the endnotes are keyed: off with their heads!