February 11, 2005

every reason stated is garbage...

Steve Weinberg has an article in the Baltimore Sun on the lack of notes and indexes in certain non-fiction books...

...Authors such as Woodward, and, by extension, editors such as Mayhew and publishers such as Simon & Schuster, offer all sorts of reasons for failing to provide source notes: They clutter a book. Readers never look at them anyway. Readers trust us. The sources are too sensitive to be identified. Adding extra pages drives up book prices.

This is not an exhaustive list, but it conveys the tenor of the discussion. The point is that every reason stated to me over 35 years of discussion is garbage.

If readers dislike such "clutter," they can skip looking at the sources section. It seems like a common-sense conclusion that curious readers are inclined to trust journalists whose reporting is transparent more than they trust those whose reporting is veiled...[thanks to
Amy Ridenour]

One of the dirty secrets of the book world is that even when books have indexes, they are usually feeble things. You probably imagine indexes being compiled with minute exactitude by monkish scholars with long white beards and lots of time. But my understanding is that they are actually done by low-paid hacks who have no interest in the book or subject.

Posted by John Weidner at February 11, 2005 12:44 PM
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