When reading academic books of a certain size the usage of endnotes in those is killing me and my productivity. That is practically part of the definition:
Footnotes are notes at the foot of the page while endnotes are collected under a separate heading at the end of a chapter, volume, or entire work. Unlike footnotes, endnotes have the advantage of not affecting the layout of the main text, but may cause inconvenience to readers who have to move back and forth between the main text and the endnotes.
Wikipedia: Note (typography)
While there seem to be some speculative thoughts out there about the general waste of using these arcane formatting conventions it seems particularly nasty to have these endnotes in academic works, especially grievous when organised by chapters or even finer grained:
I understand that some readers don’t want to read footnotes but as part of the target demographic for academic books, as a consumer of academic books, as one who pays a considerable number of dollars for increasingly expensive academic books, I object to the rise of endnotes to the exclusion of footnotes in academic books.
The Evil Of Endnotes In Academic Books
There is the weak rationale that target demographics caused this preference, which does not make that much sense. Certain publication series, like journals, have their own tradition for how to format things, granted. But if that targeting is indeed the cause:
Why did that start? When did that start? How come this preference for disregarding the intended readership is more prevalent in American books than European books?
Looking for details on how these decisions became so entrenched I could not find any historical explanation. Neither on any conscious decision making process nor on a description or explanation of the process leading to the present situation.
Another Wikipedia article offers an unsourced explanation that points in the direction of somehow cultural preference:
Viele Herausgeber fürchten, Fußnoten könnten auf ein breiteres Publikum abschreckend wirken.
Translation: Many editors/publishers fear that footnotes could act as a deterrent to a wider audience.
Since this reasoning is not only unsourced but also quite far from making much sense and also almost contrary to some standards of tradition, ergonomics and usability, especially for historians, theologians, linguists and the like.
A seemingly comprehensive work on the subject has very little to say about the history of this exact rivalry :
But Hume also put forward some technical complaints, which he hoped Gibbon might take into account in preparing the second edition of his work, chiefly in order to make it more accessible to the reader:
He ought certainly to print the number of the chapter at the head of the Margin, and it would be better if something of the Contents coud also be added. One is also plagued with his Notes, according to the present Method of printing the Book: When a note is announced, you turn to the End of the Volume; and there you often find nothing but the Reference to an Authority: All these Authorities ought only to be printed at the Margin or the Bottom of the Page.
This text reveals much. It reminds us, first of all, that Gibbon's footnotes began as endnotes, and only reached what we now chink of as their traditionally prominent position on Gibbon's page after Hume complained. But it also confirms that the technical, documentary side of Gibbon's footnoting did not represent a radical innovation in exposition or format. Hume did not see the notion that citations should identify the sources of statements in a historical text as radically new.
Ten years before Gibbon brought out the first, endnoted volume of the Decline and Fall, Möser had already finished printing the first, preliminary, spectacularly documented edition of his Osnabrückische Geschichte. The early twentieth-century historian of historiography Eduard Fueter ––ever more willing to notice exceptional individual achievements than to abandon the traditional categories they challenged–– und Möser's achievement surprisingly modern, even radical, in meth and presentation (though highly conservative in content). Möser, he admitted, did not try to conceal, but strove to reveal, the sources from which he worked. Footnotes, in short, were written by eighteenth-century historians who lived and worked in very different worlds, societies, and even libraries. The need for clearly presented historical documentation established itself, paradoxically, in the age of the philosophes, who despised pedantry as a form of secular superstition.
One last time, David Hume offers crucial testimony. He directed the letter in which he insisted that Gibbon make his endnotes into f tnotes not to Gibbon hi selfbut to their joint publisher, William Strahan. As he said, "I intended to have given him (Gibbon} my Advice with regard to the manner of printing it; but as I am now writing to you, it is the same thing.
Anthony Grafton: "The Footnote. A Curious History", Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1997, p 103, 116, 222.
Since when and why do some academic publishers use, prefer or enforce endnotes instead of footnotes in academic books, even in the face of that that may not the most reasonable choice?