If you already knew about Readwise and how it can help you manage your Kindle highlights, please excuse my enthusiasm! I can’t help it, I am thrilled. And hooked.
But let me start from the beginning.
(please make sure to read my One Year Later update below)
My Kindle Highlights Before Readwise
Ever since I bought my first Kindle back in 2011, my reading life has transformed immensely.
I was always an avid reader of both fiction and non-fiction, but also an avid notetaker because that is how I both remember and implement (or try to) what I read.
With Kindle came Kindle Notes and Highlights which is one of the reasons I mostly read electronically now.
Until I discovered Readwise, my system consisted of going into my Kindle Highlights page on Amazon, copying all my highlights from a particular book, and pasting them into a Word document. Then, time permitting, I would go through these notes, delete the ones I didn’t need, make comments where I needed to and save the word file to my Evernote. I even have a physical binder where I used to print my favorite highlights as I love going back to read them over and over. (I don’t print anymore, though, that was before the Cloud)
Anyway, as you can imagine, this process was quite cumbersome because there was so much manual labor involved. And yes, I am aware of a few other apps I could have used to export the clippings, but they didn’t offer any more ease or value than my own system.
Until Readwise entered my life.
What Readwise can do for you?
Readwise will connect to your Kindle highlights and import them into your app of choice. (in my case that is Notion and Evernote, yes I do both)
It will also do other things like import your Pocket or your Medium highlights (and a few other apps as well) and it is still evolving so it may actually soon target your favorite platform.
At the moment, you have to pay 7.99 USD a month for the ability to import those highlights.
But for me, just having those notes in one usable, searchable and editable place is absolutely priceless.
You can also use their own platform to review and edit notes, and that’s great, too. It is just that I was additionally excited about having my Kindle Notes on the platforms I already use extensively.
So, here is a little overview of what I have now.
All my books are here, about 390 books I’ve read on Kindle alone.
The page automatically shows the book cover, which is awesome. The URL, full title, the total number of highlights and the highlight location.
Readwise will also send you daily reminders (that you can turn off or adjust according to your individual preferences) to randomly remind you of your highlights which you can delete or edit straight from your email or the Readwise app on your phone.
As I said above, I also imported everything into my Evernote and it looks like this:
Now, you can just imagine the endless possibilities for your blog, your writing, your articles, your conversations if you can easily be reminded of every book you have ever read (on Kindle, at least!)
I am now exploring with Pocket highlights for the articles I save. It seems like an awesome option, too.
I am sure I will write more about this at some point later, but for now, I just wanted to share this discovery.
Update: One Year Later
Less than a year of using this app, I decided that I would not be renewing my subscription. As much as I loved the app, I could not justify paying that much money only to have all the new highlights synced beautifully to all my services. Also, as much as I read on Kindle, I only really highlight some non-fiction books, so there was that.
Once all the old highlights download, they will stay there even if you cancel the service, so I decided that if I really miss it, I will pay for a monthly subscription every now and then and download my highlights. In the meanwhile, I can get my highlights both from my Goodreads account and my Amazon highlights link. (to be fair, not as elegantly, but by copy-pasting them)
Also, I started using my local library more and discovered that we can actually digitally highlight paper books which opened up a whole new world for me.
And finally, if the service was less expensive (it costs $85 a year vs. $120 for a service of incomparable value such as Dropbox or even $54 for Evernote), I would probably have kept it. But since most of us already pay a yearly subscription for several apps or services, somethings gotta give. And in my case, Readwise was an easy choice.
I would also love to know what you do, if anything, with your Kindle Highlights? In general, do you tend to underline and take notes when you read?