Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Life and death of the digital endnote

What’s with having the endnotes not in the book itself but on a website? Do they think websites are permanent?
Brett Holman didn't like the idea much four years ago. Now the website in question, containing all the endnotes for a history of British-German relations, has vanished. The author is dead, so who's gonna care enough to fix it?

Holman describes this as a trend that has not taken off, but he links to suggestions to the contrary. Certainly several University of Toronto Press histories followed this procedure: Martin Friedland's University of Toronto: A History has no endnotes other than those posted to a UTP website.(Correction, July 19: Charles Levi points out the notes were also published as a separate book that could be ordered from UTP.)  Constance Backhouse's Colour-Coded: A Legal History of Racism in Canada has 150 pages of endnotes but refers readers seeking "extensive notes with complete details" to the UTP site. On a quick check, I could find the online notes to Friedland as advertised, but not the Backhouse notes.

Colour-Coded is from 1999 and Friedland's university history from 2002. How's this practice been doing in Canadian academic publishing since then?

As someone says in the discussion: "footnotes: the original hyperlinked metadata."

Update, July 19: This is awkward.  Misty de Meo points out that the link above is defective.  Try this one instead.  And belated credit to Cliopatria too
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