Text Patterns - by Alan Jacobs

Friday, May 14, 2010

a boon to the annotator

Thanks to one of my wise and learned commenters, I discovered the pretty-much-wholly-unadvertised Your Reading page on Amazon's Kindle site. This has made me think, for the first time, that the Kindle really could be used for serious and scholarly reading: I can see all of my highlighted passages and all of my notes on a single screen, and can copy and paste all of that text into my own manuscripts. (Though I believe there are limits on the amount you can copy at any one time.) I have been using this feature recently, and what a wonderful time-saver it is — as well as offering a great deal of information, and information I have already decided is highly relevant, on a single screen. This is potentially a game-changer for me.
And yes, I know that Amazon is gathering this information, anonymizing it, and giving users a look at the "most highlighted" passages in various books. Not only is that not a problem for me, I consider it an additional benefit: it can be very interesting to see what other readers have annotated in books I myself annotated. Do we see the same passages as significant? Or do we have significant disagreements? Surely there are scholars who want to study these patterns — if there aren't, there ought to be.
(I might add that that page contains notes and highlighted passages only for books I have bought from Amazon: any public-domain texts, or documents of my own, that I have annotated on my Kindle don't show up there — which is a minor inconvenience, since I can get those elsewhere. Indeed I did get them elsewhere or could not have put them on the Kindle.)

3 comments:

  • I use this for my book reviews that I do on my blog. I highlight and make notes on the book as I am going along and by the end of the book I just have to organize the review. I think it helps me remember what I was thinking as I was reading instead of just what do I think now that I am done with the book.

  • That's right, Adam — it's a kind of immediate visual history of one's reading experience.

  • Thank you. I have been searching for a way to copy and paste highlights. Amazon doesn't make it easy to find the site that you had a link for. The link brought me right to it and the rest was easy. Thanks again.

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