Over the years of my current reading pattern I’ve realised my approach to books has changed. One of those changes is the role that endorsements play. At the beginning I would first look at who endorses a book before I’d decide to read it. Now I only ever read the endorsements after I’ve finished the book. But why write a whole blog on this very niche topic? Because for buying and readers endorsements can be very important. But I’d like to take a few minutes to point out that they shouldn’t be the deciding factor of whether you read/buy a book.
As I read more and more books I’m getting used to seeing the same names again and again. I sometimes like to play a wee game and see how many people I can guess have endorsed the book before I look. I know, I need to get out more!
Here’s a few reasons why endorsements aren’t as helpful as some might think…
1. They can say more about the author’s friends and theological tribe rather than necessarily about the contents of the book itself.
2. Have they even read the book?! That’s often been my thought as I’ve finished a book and turned to the endorsements page.
3. It’s a reputations game. When you endorse a book, you are endorsing an author and their content. People might happily skip over some questionable content simply because of who wrote it. They don’t want to put their neck on the line by refusing to endorse.
4. They can be a bit much. Nobody needs 15-20 endorsements, or 8-10 pages of them and regardless of what they say, the author isn’t perfect. Sometimes endorsements can be a bit over the top.
Having said that, I do still see the need or at least a good place for endorsements. I understand that having certain names on the covers of books means more people will buy them. I do see the benefit of genuine endorsements. So a word or two for publishers…
1. Make sure the endorsers actually read the book. Any endorser who hasn’t read the book but endorses it anyway, is lying.
2. Don’t print pages upon pages of them, it’s overkill and it would actually make me think twice about buying it.
3. Get the relevant people to endorse the book. If it’s about parenting, put the number of kids they have. If the books about church life, put pastors, church leaders and church members there who have all benefited from the author.
4. Try use different people. The usual big names are all fine and good. But if you want local ministers to benefit from a book, for example, then have endorsements by other local ministers. Don’t be afraid to use lesser known names.
Now a few words for the reader…
1. Take endorsements with a pinch of salt. Not every endorser has read the book, they may know the author and their stance on the topic so they’re endorsing that rather than the specific content of the book.
2. Look up those who have endorsed books and check them out. I’ve come across some great preachers and authors, who I would never have known about were it not for their 50-150 word endorsement of a book.
3. Read the book first. It’s not good to be too skeptical and it’s not good to assume every endorsement is 100% true. Therefore, reading the book first will help you gather your own thoughts on the book before someone else’s.
4. Keep an eye out for those who write good and truthful endorsements. That way you’ll know their word is reliable when it comes thinking about investing in a book.
Pretty niche I know, but book endorsements are pretty important to some people. So they need to be helpful. Do you have any more thoughts that I can mull on?
5 thoughts on “Endorsements, do we really need them?”
Great points. But I consider endorsements as indications if they’re compatible to my theological view specially for those authors I’m not familiar with. However if I find the book a great addition to my learning bin, I would dive into it but with caution of course…
I find it interesting how different people expect different things from and engage differently with endorsements. I guess I also depends on what you read and the purpose with which you read. As you say, endorsements can be helpful to understand an author’s theological framework.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Yes I agree…
I think endorsements tell me a few things:
1. As Nitoy said, it helps me locate the author in the theological landscape in lots of different ways.
2. If I see unexpected combinations of endorsements then I’m always intrigued and more inclined to buy
3. It helps me see the level of engagement & enthusiasm for a topic or for a person. Sometimes having the author recommended to you is almost as useful as having the book recommended. Character, integrity, knowledge, skill etc…
4. I don’t mind lots because well that’s demonstrated commitment as well as connections but I will invariably skim the names
5. The most effective for me are from a name I recognise who is competent in the field acknowledging a book as a worthy addition. An endorsement that has some weight & gravitas to it – helps me choose between books as unfortunately I cannot buy all the ones I want
LikeLiked by 1 person