The Kindle is an amazing product. Yet Amazon failed to build out great note, snippet and book recommendation applications.
Goodreads hasn’t changed much since Amazon bought the company in 2013. The Kindle-Goodreads integration is meager: it allows you to update % complete and whether your finish the book.
Amazon only offers basic Kindle notes and highlights functionality. You can access and search them through https://read.amazon.com/notebook or export a portion of them as an html file from the Kindle iPad application. The book publisher sets a limit on the amount of highlights you can export. Using the highlights outside of the notebook site is cumbersome. There are a few utilities out there, such as http://kindle-formatter.vercel.app/ to convert the Kindle html file to Markdown and Roam formats.
Amazon could have built a great set of products, combining GoodReads and Notes, that
- Allow for easy and pretty sharing of quotes and highlights on Twitter.
- Allow for sharing and discovering highlights from other readers you follow. Bookclubs can see each other’s highlights. Or you can quickly gather what avid readers and curators have highlighted in a book.
- Allow you to save all your highlights in a portable text format. My highlights are mine. I prefer to save my book summaries and highlights locally. I want to copy/paste them easily into a Google Doc, an email, or a blogpost.
- Allow for easy integration with various notebook applications, such as Notion or Evernote.
Readwise solves many of these problems. It brings highlights from several sources together and integrates them with popular notebook applications. You can also share quotes easily on Twitter in a pretty format.
However, at $5/month, Readwise joins my subscription hell.
Amazon should have built a number of these features into Kindle Notes from the get-go.
Matter, a new and great reader application for newsletters and articles, does a great job at this, and avoids “integration” applications. Matter provides snippet sharing, and allows you to export the highlights to Notion. You can also export all highlights in an article in Markdown format.
Amazon is great at logistics, package distribution, and Kindle devices. They are great at infrastructure software (AWS) and Alexa. I wonder if they have the same passion for consumer software.