Amazon redoes Kindle notes

Amazon redoes Kindle notes

“I’ll make a note of it.”
–Jerome “Curly Howard” Horwitz

We are coming up on the ten year anniversary of the release of the Kindle.

You might think they had it all figured out by now…nope. 🙂

One of the areas that has seemed clunky has been dealing with the notes and highlights you can make in Kindle books.

Now, I need to say first that I love data (both entry and retrieval). 🙂 I go back to Personal Pearl, Foxpro, and beyond. I always remember teaching a database class to a group, and I was explaining how fields and records work, and I said something like, “Remember when you used to play with those little plastic boxes that you put 3 x 5 cards into when you were a kid? You know, with the alphabet cards that stuck up…and no?” That was true, though…I really did play with those. I think they were supposed to be for recipes and such, but I would write down animal species and sort them, that sort of thing.

I still do quite a bit with data…for example, my timelines at the History Project are really about data entry and retrieval.

So, would I care about good data retrieval with quotes from books? Absolutely! After all, I actually wrote a book of quotations:

The Mind Boggles: A Unique Book of Quotations (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

which, when it was released was (very briefly) the #1 book of quotations in any format at Amazon.

I also know most people haven’t loved it, but I loved doing it. It actually primarily came out of one of those plastic boxes with 3×5 cards…typed mostly on a typewriter.

You can imagine that I was excited that I could just highlight a quotation in a book and have it easily retrievable!

Well, that didn’t really turn out to be the case.

For years, we’ve been going to

I wrote about some changes they made back in 2010:

Changes at

Still, I haven’t been able to just go in and pull out a bunch of quotations and have them sourced with the book, the author, preferably the character…and do it with a simple export.

It’s always been copy and paste, one quotation at a time (to have any chance to use them).

They are making a change.

Supposedly, customers got e-mails about this…but I don’t seem to have one. 🙂

This is the new site:

The old site is accessible until July 3rd.

I do think the new one looks better, and it supposedly looks a lot better on mobile.

However, it seems like a lot of features may be disappearing. Maybe they are going somewhere else, but all I am seeing on the new one is the notes, with no improved way to export them.

That would mean that following people (and being followed) was going away.

My best guess? They think all those features are served by Goodreads, which Amazon owns.

I suppose that’s not too bad. They probably should just integrate your notes into Goodreads, too. 🙂

I do want to say that it’s nice to see Amazon still paying attention to the Kindle experience, and working to improve it.

What do you think? When was the last time you went to that site…if ever? Did you get an e-mail about the change? Do you have a system you like to use for book quotations? Feel free to tell me and my readers by commenting on this post.

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9 Responses to “Amazon redoes Kindle notes”

  1. Jane Greenlund Miller Says:

    This guy seems brilliant to me. I have learned a lot from him but I he also seems a bit anal.

    Sent from my iPad


  2. Phink Says:

    I have always been a lover of data and statistics. At 18 I knew what my average tip per run (pizza delivery) was and 15 or 16 other stats I kept up with. Just like I shared with you in February (my 8th anniversary of owning a Kindle). I can tell you things such as avg. book price, avg. non free book price, and avg. cost per book considering all cost. I know what percentage of books were free, my Kindling cost per day and more. Aside from the time to set up my Excel file it does not take much time to keep up with it all.

    My friends make fun of me about all my record keeping so last week on Facebook just to give them the business as Wally used to say I said “I had a horrible day at work which is rare. According to my records 98.64% of my days at work are good days.” Of course I was joking. Even I don’t keep up with that but I immediately wondered why I don’t.

    A few years ago I started keeping track of reading sessions. I did it one calendar year and it was so much trouble I had to stop. I loved the info I gained from it but it was very time consuming. I did this because my friends also make fun of me because for some reason I can’t do any one thing very long if I have a choice in the matter. I’m always feeling like I should or could be doing something else. I can’t watch an entire episode of a 30 minute comedy. I’ll do it in 2-3 settings most times. It takes me days or weeks sometimes to watch a movie 5-30 minutes at a time. I have no idea why this is.

    However, the year I kept track of my reading sessions I learned that some of my average reading sessions were as follow:

    5-30 minutes 70.7% of the time
    65-90 minutes 6.8% of the time
    Over 90 was 0%.

    Breaking it down further, my highest percentage was a tie at 10 and 15 minutes and both coming in at 13.6% of the time. I kept track of every time I read and recorded how long it was in 5 minute increments.

    I love information and got very excited a few months ago when I learned I could export my notes after reading a book and that has become part of my record keeping. Any improvement in that area and I am all for it.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Phink!

      Interestingly, I don’t really apply statistical analysis to me and my life. When I look at data analysis, I’m hoping that it will either invalidate a belief I have or reveal a pattern to me I haven’t seen before (and more rarely, that it validates something I’ve said). I could be wrong, of course, but I feel like I’m pretty self aware, and I don’t guess that applying my data analysis skills to myself would reveal all that much. That may be naivete on my part, though.

    • Tom Semple Says:

      The Kobo platform does compile reading statistics, and I would certainly have some interest in something similar on Kindle platform (Audible has ‘listening stats’). But I would want access to the raw data as well.
      We are entering the Age of Tracking Everything, and while that has its Orwellian aspects, I think there is a great deal to be gained by it as well.
      For example continuous monitoring of health properties can facilitate early detection of risk factors and improve health outcomes, help develop more effective healthcare policies and reduce costs, etc. So much of what passes for medicine has turned out to be based on very limited datasets.
      Of course privacy needs to be effective and a better understanding about how to report statistics in a human digestible manner needs to emerge. E.g. I think it is kind of crazy to go around checking your own heart rate or weight constantly, but patterns and trends are important, and the more detail you have, the easier it is to derive these.
      Not sure what we will find out from reading statistics but I’m sure it would be of interest to researchers and so forth.

  3. Sharon K Says:

    Hmmm. I don’t think I’ve been to the website in several years. I did not get email about the change. Generally, if I am looking for a quotation, I go to google and search on my vague recollections. That works surprisingly well.
    I have two researchers in my family – electrical engineering and political/sociology – and that note taking issue has been a reason why the two will often ask me explicitly for a p-book version over an e-book version of the same topic as a gift. We have a friend who also takes subscriptions only in physical form for making notes because it was too difficult to do that with the e-subscriptions. I wonder if that’s the publishing rather than amazon? Do you know? I have wanted to print out articles to share from our public library e-magazines, and it is sometimes just really awkward. Could just be me not knowing all the capabilities.

    • Tom Semple Says:

      You can Export notes and highlights directly from newer Kindles and Fires, as well as from the recent versions of Kindle for iOS and Android. These are either email attachments that you can re-direct into electronic notebooks, or (on Android) you can redirect them more directly with Sharing features of the platform (I expect Kindle for iOS will get broader Sharing options in the future, as it is an obvious extension).
      This should allay some of the concerns about making electronic notes that are hard to access.
      While there are no annotation features for Kindle subscriptions/periodicals (Kindle devices let you Clip Article but then you have to dig it out of a My Clippings file copied to your computer), most dedicated magazine apps provide some form of sharing. A brute-force way of sharing is to do screen captures and then collect those into electronic notebooks (perhaps after OCR to make them searchable/editable).

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Sharon!

      Interesting that you and I didn’t get that e-mail!

      Searching on Google can work, although the results aren’t always accurate. Errors can be inherited on the internet, and unfortunately, it’s not survival of the fittest. 🙂

      I found this book really interesting, where they track down the origins of quotations:

      Hemingway Didn’t Say That

      Cool about the researchers…and you can tell them I said so! 🙂 I prefer highlighting in an e-book to a p-book, even with the retrieval issue…part of that, I would assume, is that I won’t write in a p-book, or even use adhesive flags.

      As to the e-subscriptions…I suspect that’s more the publishers. It may not be so much a desire to control the use, but I know they find it really difficult to format for different platforms…it’s even hard to go from a tablet to a phone. Each phone and tablet brand has its own flavor, too. Printing out an entire article to share with other people…they might not enable that, due to rights issues. What I expect may happen is that they centralize the articles, and you give friends a link. That would enable them to have advertising on the site, and possibly due data mining.

      • Phink Says:

        I too would never highlight or mark in a book. I also never dog eared a corner. One of the things I immediately loved about the kindle was it’s ability to highlight or make notes without feeling as though I was damaging the book. My first note in ever book is at the front I input the start date, end date, and final rating.

  4. Tom Semple Says:

    A shorter URL is ‘’.

    I think it is mostly an improvement as far as getting to notes; certainly looks better and is more navigable. One might want notes for Personal Documents there as well but at least you can Export those from Fire, Kindle for iOS or Kindle for Android, which is probably good enough.

    I will miss the would-be ‘social’ features (Public highlights, following etc.) though that never really took off. It was a good idea. Perhaps they can pull highlights/comments from people I follow on Goodreads so that they show up in the books I’m reading. These could be authors, professional reviewers, book discussion groups, or just other readers. This would more fully realize the potential of ‘social’ reading; having it ‘owned’ by Goodreads would give it better focus and critical mass (they have an open API for their services so other reading systems could benefit as well).

    The other thing that apparently will go away is Your Profile, which among other things has a page to view Corrections (‘Content Errors’) that one has reported and their status. I hope they plan to make that information available somewhere (Manage Your Content & Devices would be a logical place). In theory this crowd-sourced error reporting should be welcome to publishers big and small, and help them eliminate typos that reflect poorly on them.

    I’m planning to send Amazon some feedback to this effect FWIW.

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