Kindle Books Updates, Now With Your Notes and Highlights

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One of the biggest promises of digital books is the ability to continuously update, correct and improve the text.  The author catches a typo after the book is published, they can correct it without waiting for a new edition of the book to be published.  A fact is discovered to be wrong (or changes after the book is published), it can be changed.

Unfortunately, the way Amazon structured it book updates means that up until now, when a book was updated the reader lost all notes and highlights from the old edition of the book.  Amazon learned that they need to ask for permission to update a book because of that.  So this is what the email used to look like from Amazon

We’re writing about your past Kindle purchase of A Walk in the Snark by Rachel Thompson. The version you received had incorrect content issues that have been corrected.

An updated version of A Walk in the Snark (ASIN:B004KKZ3GC) is now available. It’s important to note that when we send you the updated version, you will no longer be able to view any highlights, bookmarks, and notes made in your current version and your furthest reading location will be lost.

Last night I received an email from Amazon that said:

We are happy to announce that an updated version of your past Kindle purchase of Sacred Marriage: What If God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy? by Gary Thomas is now available. The version you received had the following issues that have been corrected:

Typos existed throughout the book.

Before you update to the new version, check to see that all devices that you have used to read this book are connected to a network and that their Annotations Backup settings are turned on. This will ensure that your notes, highlights, bookmarks and furthest reading location are retained in the new version. For help with modifying settings, please visit http://www.amazon.com/kindlesupport.

You can get this new version by going to the Manage Your Kindle page at http://amazon.com/MYKupdate. Find the book in your Kindle Library and click on the “update available” link next to the book’s title. Within 5 minutes, any of your devices that have the eBook currently downloaded and have an active wireless connection will be updated automatically.

I thought this was new last night. But when I looked at my emails from Amazon, this is the format of the email since at least the beginning of March. I just did not notice prior to last night.

I still don’t think it is a good idea for authors to excessively update a book. And some people have raised concerns that updating will not allow for a ‘standard version’ of a book. But on the whole I think updating is a feature, not a bug of the ebook world.

(Also, by far the most common reason for updates is bad Kindle formatting or conversions from the print book. You do not want an ebook that looks like you do not know how to write.)

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