First, let me confess: before I worked in publishing, I’m pretty sure I’d never read the acknowledgments in any book. Now that I do, I read them only to see who edited the book and who sold it. I’ve long assumed, actually, that acknowledgments are read almost exclusively by the people who think they might spot their names. (And I while I admit that is vain, I have done multiple tours of the bookstores I worked at in college and grad school to revel in the glory of my name being in the books I’d once have been shelving.) Why would anyone else even read them?*
Well apparently Sam Sacks does. And he’s none too pleased about it over at The New Yorker‘s Page-Turner blog (link via @BookCourt). He sees them as a symptom of the relentless buzz of promotion and self-promotion that swirls around publishing and makes a plea for them not to sully the books themselves. I think there’s certainly an argument to be made that they’re silly and superfluous, but I’ve never thought they did the book or reader any damage. They’re pretty easily avoided, in fact.
So, am I wrong? Do you hungrily devour authors’ thank yous? Or hate them with a fiery passion?
*My friend Rebecca recently said that they’re like the commentary tracks on DVDs, which is a delightful way to think of them, but I’d guess more people listen to those than read acknowledgments anyway.