Ebooks and Footnotes

By Deane Barker on October 10, 2011

Will the E-Book Kill the Footnote?: This anecdote is from a writer who wrote in the footnotes of her book that her dog accidentally ate a grape from the floor.  Turns out, the ebook format meant no one read the footnote which was plainly obvious on the printed page.

Since typing that small type, I have received dozens of angry and concerned queries about the anecdote. Why had I fed her grapes? Did I not know they were toxic? After some back-and-forth, I was surprised to discover that these incredulous comments often came from readers of the electronic version of my book, where the footnotes are shunted off to the end of the text, relegated to being mere endnotes. If footnotes are at risk of going unread, endnotes are even more so.

There’s no doubt that ebooks are changing the nature of how books are formatted.  We discussed before how they’re annihilating the concept of the “page” as a thing, and now footnotes.  I’m very curious what will be the next casualty of the ebook.

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  1. Definitely a nice feature…hopefully some of the other browsers pick up on that idea. I think with HTML5 starting to be more defined and used in more areas the lines between “website” and website and web apps are going to be completely blurred in many cases.

    Also, thanks for pointing out Atrium, definitely looks like it’s worth the time of trying it out.

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