E-books: thoughts about highlighting

In today’s post, I’ll share my thoughs about one of the main feature of e-books: highlighting.

If you saw someone running a highlighter across a book other than university textbook, I can imagine you’d tear it from their hands and put all your self-control into resisting the urge to proclaim them barbarians and use any blunt instrument in reach (apart from the book itself) to give them a painful lesson on proper handling of books.

Seeing them fold the corner of a page in to mark a favorite passage would probably elicit even a stronger reaction.

And I say, hail to modern technology! With e-books, you can bookmark and highlight all you want without being a barbarian – and you can share those favorite quotes and lines with your fellow readers. You can also add your notes to those highlights, if you wish so.

As a reader, there are several types of highlights I make: funny lines, witty one-liners, words of wisdom, and many others. There are books I’ve read without a single highlight, and there are books where I made 20+ of them.

As I said, there’s the option to share those highlights. Kindle e-readers have integrated Goodreads support, which includes highlight sharing (each user can choose which highlights to share – all, specific ones, or none).

One of the things I thought about is how might authors use this feature. Since I am not yet finished with my debut, I can only speculate. A few authors who read my reviews on Goodreads had looked at and liked some of my highlights while many are probably paing no attention to this feature at all. Yet, I think it’s one of those small but nice things: you can see which parts were liked a lot, when people liked any specific line of dialogue, etc. It might be a hint that the inspiring speech before a major battle or the wise teacher’s words made their mark on the readers.

While I don’t have any hard data on this topic, I believe there are not that many people actively using this feature. While kindle shows you (unless you disable the feature) the passages highlighted by many readers and a count of highlights, those are usually low compared to the number of readers – even well-known lines from well-known classic barely go over the low thousands of highlights.


It’s time to ask for the opinions of my readers: if you are an e-book reader, do you highlight? If you are an author, do you look at what passages your readers highlight? If you are writing but not yet published, do you plan to look at what your readers might highlight? If you are a print reader, do you think you would use this feature, should you ever read an e-book? I am curious to know.

And, to close it off: you can have a look at my highlights right here on Goodreads.

3 thoughts on “E-books: thoughts about highlighting

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