Exporting Kindle notes and highlights

12 Sep 2010

My reading habits changed the moment I got my hands on an iPad. I’d been considering getting a Kindle for a while but held off in anticipation of whatever magical device Steve Jobs and his minions had in store. I’d installed Amazon’s Kindle app on my iPhone some time before, but the small screen never drew me in enough to make it anything more than a occasional reading device. The Kindle app on the iPad’s big screen made all the difference though, and I now find myself buying 90% of my reading material in Kindle ebook form.

About that same time I read Will Richardson’s post where I learned that the electronic notes and highlights that I was creating in my Kindle books could be accessed online at kindle.amazon.com. Wow. To quote Will, “Game. Changer.” I’m not sure I’ll ever buy a non-fiction book in dead tree form again if I can help it. (The inability of Apple’s own iBooks app to make my saved notes and highlights visible in one place is the single biggest reason I have yet to buy a book from Apple.)

Before Kindle, my typical practice was to make my highlights and margin notes in pencil and transcribe them into OmniOutliner so I could have easy access to them later. Effective, but laborious. What if, I thought, I could write some software to “scrape” the web page that displays my notes and highlights and import them into OmniOutliner directly using AppleScript. If nothing else, it sounded like a good excuse to learn AppleScript.

I had the OmniOutliner version working soon enough and added a generic OPML export too for those who don’t happen to own OmniOutliner. By that time I’d started playing around with Evernote and noticed that they had built AppleScript support into their Mac client. I decided to build an Evernote version too.

Enough delay: I’m calling it NoteScraper and making both versions available for download. Please note that there are likely bugs. This software is definitely beta. You can get more information and download the software at the newly minted Savvy Technologist software page.

I hope someone (besides Will) finds this stuff useful. I’d love to hear about it if you do.

8 responses to Exporting Kindle notes and highlights

  1. You have my attention. This looks cool.

    • Joe, please let me know if you have any suggestions once you’re able to try it out.

  2. Eric Calvert 12 Sep 2010 at 9:40 pm

    This is a great idea. I’m going to go play with this.

    It occurs to me that, if this works smoothly, it would make the actual Kindle device, ironically, the least useful Kindle book-reading hardware out there for using Kindle books in academic projects for me. (Anything that can run both a Kindle app and an Evernote app would be superior.)

    Note to self: start including your relevant Evernote topic tags in individual annotations you make in Kindle to make it simple to group Kindle content with related material in Evernote clipped from elsewhere.

  3. Great idea, Tim!

  4. Thanks for the interesting profile ;)

  5. This is exactly what I’ve been looking for! However, I don’t use either OmniOutliner or Evernote–I use DevonThink. I know nothing about Applescript, but my understanding is that DevonThink has great support for it. Would you consider creating a version of NoteScrapper for DevonThink?

  6. A great new information! Using the Kindle software would likely to make reading books a lot more easier. It would also save time while traveling. Reading an e book on an i Phone could also make a long journey less boring.