Last week, I wrote about the eink screen, the main reason that I bought the Kindle that ended up being wrong (it has a browser, but it is unusable) and the biggest benefit that I did not know about (the free books).
This week I want to talk about what the kindle brings to reading tools (highlighting, annotating and search).
I know that readers have different feelings about whether you should write in books. Michael Hyatt (CEO of Thomas Nelson) has two great posts on how to take notes and how to read a non-fiction book. I was brought up to be a “don’t ever write in a book” person. So I do not have a history of writing in books. But the highlighting feature in the kindle has changed that for me. Highlighting, not only makes a mark on the page, but it also automatically creates a bookmark, to make it easier to find the passage later, and copies the entire highlighted section to a notes files (with a note on the book and location of the passage.)
I use this all the time to help me write my book reviews. Anytime I see something that I want to comment on I just highlight it and when I am ready to write the review I pull up the notes file and the review is usually already half written.
Highlighting is only half of the note taking process. The other part is your response to what you are highlighting. I have found that I do not use this as much as the highlighting. But I do use it sometimes. When you want to make a comment on a passage, you can either highlight and then annotate (which I recommend) or just move the cursor to where you want to add the annotation. If you do not highlight first (or after) then you do not have the context for the note attached to the note. There is a book location in your notes file, and the note is in the book, so you see it when you are re-reading the book. But if you are note taking because you are preparing for a paper or a talk, then you want the whole context so you do not have to go back and re-read the section.
I have a visual memory with books. I used to be able to turn to a passage in the bible and know about where on the page what I was looking for was going to be. It has been a decade since I regularly used a paper bible, so that visual memory is gone. But search more than makes up for what I used to be able to occasionally find through visual memory. It is a concordance for every word or phrase, not only in the book you are reading, but every book on your kindle if you want. Search is a huge advantage for an ebook reader. And really it is the main reason I use the kindle keyboard. I really do not make that many notes.