One of the things I love about my Kindle is the ability to annotate my reference books with highlights and notes. While most ebook reading devices and apps offer these capabilities in one form or another, Kindle kicks it up a notch by also offering the ability to share those notes with others. All of this takes place on the Kindle users site.
This site does more than just save your annotations. It’s a place to connect with other Kindle users and share notes, review and edit your own annotations, keep track of your Kindle library and more.
In the Your Books section, you’ll find all your Kindle books listed. You can rate them, set your reading status and decide whether you want to make your status, ratings and notes public. Using the filters at the top of the list, you can quickly change the list’s view.
Here you see the book page for my copy of My Evernote [great book!] showing details about the book at the top and annotations below. The yellow quotation marks identify my highlights and the blue identify highlights from other Kindle users. Notice there are links to take me directly to that spot within the book, to delete the highlight and to add a note if I want.
So, how do I put this to use? First, I look at the people I’ve friended to see what they’re reading and check their annotations to see what they found interesting. This helps me decide which books to purchase. For reference and how-to books, I look for tips as well as reviews. And, since it’s often easier to add notes from my desktop than an onscreen keyboard, I’ll often add notes to a book from here. If it’s a book I haven’t read yet, I’ve been known to add notes to remind me when there’s something specific I want to look for in the book. I’ve also used it to annotate a cemetery index (personal document converted to Kindle format) with notes on things to check during a planned visit to that cemetery.
If you’re a serious note-taker, you might want to take advantage of Kindle’s free desktop reader app. Not only can you highlight and add notes, you can copy/paste selected text to other apps, get definitions of the highlighted word, do a lookup in Wikipedia and connect to this book’s page at Shelfari – more on that in a minute. This app is a free download from Amazon.
The Kindle user site isn’t the only social book goodness from Amazon. There’s also Shelfari. It’s sort of a GoodReads for Amazon books. Although I find GoodReads more useful for finding interesting things to read and connecting with others to discuss books in general, Shelfari is still quite useful. One thing that stands out is that each book listed in Shelfari has a crowd-sourced page where any user can add information. This ranges from ratings and reviews, to discussions and details. The information added in the Book Extras tab is accessible to Kindle readers from within the book itself.
If you’re an author with a book for sale at Amazon, you can use this page to add character and location descriptions, build a glossary, add the table of contents and other information that your readers might find useful. That information will be available to them from within the Kindle book (when they’re connected via 3G or Wi-Fi). Your book page can also be a useful marketing tool to connect with your readers by taking advantage of its social features.
Amazon is way ahead of other major booksellers for many reasons. These tools for annotating and sharing your notes along with the social platforms that welcome book lovers show their commitment to their customers. Take advantage of these capabilities to get the most out of your device/book investment.