If I couldn’t highlight books, take margin notes, and scrawl my personal hieroglyphics across the pages, I likely wouldn’t read much at all.  For example:

book highlight

When Amazon came out with a Kindle reader for the iPad I had frequent visions about how e-books would take my reading experience to a whole new level of greatness.  I don’t know what I was expecting exactly, but I know I wasn’t expecting this:


It’s all my book highlights in a stack!  Hmm…okay…nope, I don’t get it.  Perhaps I’m not seeing the genius of this or something, but let me count a handful of things that don’t make sense to me here:

1. Suddenly my highlights don’t make any sense, and that’s not my fault! I can’t see the context of the surrounding text that might shed more light on that highlight.  Sure, I can tap my way to the actual page and see everything there, but that just means that the Kindle has added an additional step to what I can do better with a regular, old paper book.

2. Sometimes the topic or idea surrounding the highlight spans two or even three pages.  In that case I want to see those two or three pages, but I don’t want to highlight three pages of text. I just want to highlight some key points within those three pages.  If I highlight the whole three pages, then the key point disappears in the rest of the highlight.  This isn’t what I want.

3. Where are these highlights in relation to one another? When I’m looking at these highlights in the big stack above I have no idea if these highlights have anything to do with each another.  When does one chapter begin and another end?  Are they on the same page or are they 30 pages apart in the next chapter?

Fortunately, there is a workaround.

The Work Around

math+girlI spent about a year upset about all this, and then voilà!  I had a solution. Just take a screenshot!  And, poof! like that all my complaints went away.

But don’t screenshots take up a lot of storage space?

Sure, but we are swimming in storage space these days.

But you can’t search text in a JPEG, can you?

In Evernote you can, and it works wonderfully.

So now, instead of looking at this:


I’m looking at this when I open the page in Evernote:Tindal

Now, which would you rather look at?

And one other thing…Amazon has made it abundantly clear that you don’t actually own any of the books–or any of your highlights contained within those books–on your Kindle (I’m not sure how Apple treats it, but I would assume it’s about the same).  As such, if I make highlights and take notes within any book, I definitely want to get it off the Kindle and somewhere Amazon can never get to it.  Oh, and moving your highlights to Evernote is not only a more sensible and safer way to work, but it also skirts around various stumbling blocks some ebook publishers have imposed on the viewing, copying, pasting, and sharing of book highlights.

And on top of that, there’s a whole host of cool things you can do once you move your highlights and notes into Evernote.  And for more of that, just keep checking back with this blog.