Users look between the lines of Kindle highlighting feature

Remember when I was like “Oh, woe is me! I have a Kindle and Amazon is a bully. Should I quit?” I didn’t, I’m broke and I’m stuck with this e-reader until it dies. So I decided to get to know my lovely little tool a little better and stumbled across a curious article on the Kindle’s highlighting feature.

Alison Flood and I share something: a fascination with seeing what people have highlighted.

I think there’s something magical about discovering how others interact with a book. Where in a print book you can see notes and turned pages, in a Kindle you can see what others have highlighted. Flood notes it could either be an important nugget from the book or it could be a reflection on the people that read it.

Another article made clear that even though Kindle users could highlight whatever text they want, not everything shows, only certain highlights.

According to Amazon’s web site, “every month, Kindle customers highlight millions of book passages that are meaningful to them. [Amazon combines] the highlights of all Kindle customers and identif[ies] the passages with the most highlights. The resulting Popular Highlights help readers to focus on passages that are meaningful to the greatest number of people.”

The Kindle only shows text as highlighted if at least three different customers “overlap.”

So if three or more highlighted something in a book, it will be shown.

But with so many people reading so many books, why isn’t the whole thing highlighted? I feel like their formula for calculating which is highlighted is missing because I haven’t found anything clearer, but it’s interesting either way and I wanted to share that there is science behind the madness.

And in case you’re one of those people that hate markings in a book, don’t worry, there’s a feature in Kindle that lets you turn off the whole community highlighting thing so only your notes show.

If you know something more, please feel free to share in the comment section!


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