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Clippings – making use of your Kindle highlights

Those of us who own a Kindle or other e-reader tend to see it as our favourite toy, or more grudgingly, an alternative to "real" books we use to save shelf space. We don’t think of it so much as a tool in our work as teachers or technologists because what happens in Kindle stays in Kindle. One of the great features of Kindle is the ability to highlight and annotate text; you can even share these notes, but sharing them with anyone outside Goodreads, or even transferring them to your desktop, is cumbersome. For example, I am currently reading a book about Python on my Kindle, and I’d like to have the useful code snippets on my PC. OK, I could read the book on my PC, but that would defeat the point of having an e-reader, or I could go to Amazon in my PC browser and look up my notes there, but it would be nice to have them all in the place I normally keep my notes, not to mention being abe to edit them there. The same would apply to a teacher who has the course textbooks on their Kindle but would like to quote them or share notes on Moodle for the benefit of their students.

There are a couple of applications that try to get round this problem, and while I have yet to find the perfect solution, so far the one that I rate most highly is Clipings.io. Clippings will read your Kindle notes page, save the ones you want, then export them to the application of your choice: currently Evernote, OneNote, Dropbox and Google Drive.

Operation is straightforward though not seamless. You install it as a Chrome add-on, and when you click on it, it takes you to your Amazon page; after you’ve signed into Amazon, you can choose which titles to import. Finally, you can export to your app of choice—Evernote in my case since I use it for everything from poetry to to-do lists. You have options to save all your notes in one big file or as a separate file for each Kindle book, and you can also choose the citation style. This would be amazing if it worked well, but unfortunately it doesn’t—I chose APA, and the citations that appeared in Evernote were nothing like APA. To be fair, much of the problem probably comes from Kindle not recording important information, but nevertheless, this is a feature that needs some work. An ideal solution would be to add integration with citation software like Zotero.

There is one catch, which is that the free version severely limits the lengths of notes. As someone who frequently highlights several paragraphs in a row, this would not do, so I coughed up for the subscription (while tipping my hat to their marketing department). At $1.99 a month, it’s pretty reasonable, but whether you’ll find it worth it depends on how much you use Kindle and whatever app you sync your notes with; as someone who uses Kindle and Evernote constantly, I considered it money well spent.

Robin Turner
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Robin Turner

Until recently, EAP instructor and Moodle systems administrator at Bilkent University, Ankara, now Learning Technologist at the Global Banking School's London Greenford campus. Interested in educational technology and gamification/game-based learning.

3 thoughts on “Clippings – making use of your Kindle highlights

  • One limitation I found of various sites / software that process Kindle highlights (such as Clippings.io) is that they charge a price for such a simple service!
    I get the convenience, but as someone with a bit of knowledge on this, I went down my own route to create a free tool to process it and even found a way to easily get all my highlights rotating daily in a quotes app on my phone.

    I wrote a blog post on how I avoided paid options to make the most of my Kindle highlights below if you’d be interested! This was my take on one way I’m trying to make the most out of my Kindle highlights 🙂


  • Very interesting to see your workflow and tech used to achieve this.
    as I’m not a Kindle or eBook reader (even though I wrote an eBook on Moodle many years ago, lol).

    • I’m a recent convert to e-readers. The early ones were clunky and rather ugly, but but I got a new Kindle a couple of months ago and it hooked me in. I do enjoy physical books, but I decided a while ago that they were only worth the space they took up if they were unobtainable in digital form, had sentimental value, or were beautiful objects in themselves.

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