Ahh, the Kindle. It's changed reading forever. It's a double-edged sword, of course: gone are the days of carrying stacks of books, since thousands can now fit in your pocket. On the other hand, purists lament the demise of the physical book, the smell of its pages, the lure of the library.
The comparisons between ebooks and paper books are sometwhat premature, however. The Kindle of today is not the device that will mark the end of paper books (in fact, that day may never come). It will not replace books because it isn't yet good enough to do so. Ebooks are but a few short years old, after all. We've got a long way to go.
The proof lies in the marginalia; or, rather, in the lack thereof. Keeping notes on what you read, highlighting passages that touch you: these are not only excellent ways to boost memory retention. They're also what may be called the soul of reading, a way to turn an author's words inward and make them your own.
Try doing that on a Kindle. It's one of book lovers' main concerns when it comes to the future of reading.
Sure, Amazon has a Highlights feature, allowing you to highlight a passage and view it later on a webpage, but that's really all you can do: look at them.
Enter Clippings Converter, a simple tool that allows you to do more with your Kindle Highlights. Your Highlights are stored on your Kindle itself as a plain text file. When you sign up for Clippings Converter, they'll ask you to connect your Kindle and upload that text file. Once the file is safely stored on the service's servers, you can do a few things with it.
If you choose, you can simply use Clippings Converter's built-in Explorer to store your highlights, and even tag, organize, favorite, and search them. You can also download them as an Excel spreadsheet, Word document, or a PDF.
The Explorer itself is impressive; some will need no more. I, however, like to use Evernote as my personal, ultimate database, and as a reading journal. Ideally, then, my Highlights would go to Evernote. Luckily, Clippings Converter can do that. Once you set up the Evernote integration, just find the note you want to send to Evernote, click "Export," and send. The note will show up, nicely formatted and automatically tagged in Evernote:
By default, highlights are put into a "Clippings Converter" notebook. It's helpful to think of this as a sort of inbox. The service will delete the note every time a new version is sent (to avoid duplicates), so you may want to create another notebook and drag-and-drop each note to the new notebook after you finish reading the book in question.
Another fantastic bonus: if you send Readability or Instapaper articles to your Kindle to read, you can highlight passages from articles, too, and send them to Evernote.
This is not an ideal solution, since you must manually connect your Kindle to upload notes. Until it's possible to get that text file off of your Kindle without wires, however, this seems to be the best solution (credit Amazon for storing these as plain text; they could easily have used a proprietary file format). The Evernote integration is, for the most part, flawless, although automatic sync would be nice. With this method, I can read a book, highlight to my heart's content, and, when I'm finished, send highlights to Evernote to review and annotate. It's a powerful addition to your arsenal if you already use Evernote as a reading journal.
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