Readwise–Synchronize Kindle and Other Highlights

I previously mentioned the Bookcision Chrome bookmark to extract Amazon Kindle highlights. Recently I learned about Readwise, an online service for syncing highlights from Kindle, Instapaper, iBooks, Medium, Twitter and other tools.

Readwise will even let you input books you’ve read outside of these systems and import popular highlights that others have shared. For example, I tend to use Audible for fiction books these days, which obviously doesn’t lend itself to highlighting. Readwise did let me add books I had listened to via Audible, but its method of sharing popular higlights left a lot to be desired (more on that in a minute).

One of the things Readwise does really well is easily let me export highlight data as a CSV. Readwise took about 10 minutes to import all of my book highlights, and a couple minutes later I had a CSV that gave me the text of each highlight, the book title and author, as well as the location in the book where I’d made the highlight. This is exactly what I was hoping to get from the system.

The only major thing I did not like about Readwise was, oddly, its apparent raison d’etre. It bills itself as helping users better remember the the things they have read. It does this by sending daily emails with highlights from recent books the user has read. The idea is apparently to reinforce recent readings by resurfacing highlights.

Readwise fixes this using a scientific process called Spaced Repetition. We surface your best highlights back to you at the right times, and let you review them every day with the daily email and app.

Frankly, this sounds like some goofy idea taken from a Medium post, and I have zero use for yet another daily email or phone notification. Fortunately, it was fairly easy to completely disable the daily email. The annoying thing was that highlights for the Audible books I entered are apparently only available via that email system–there doesn’t seem to be a way, for example, to download popular highlights for the Audible books I’d listened to. Readwise should add that feature if possible (presumably, copyright issues might be a concern).

The other drawback is that the subscription fee was fairly steep. There are two subscription tiers, one at $4.99/month and one at $7.99/month (assuming you pay for an annual subscription). The $7.99./month tier adds the ability to tag highlights, export them to Evernote, and includes some more advanced sharing features.

I signed up for the $7.99/month tier, largely because I find this service extremely useful and would like to see it succeed.

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One thought on “Readwise–Synchronize Kindle and Other Highlights”

  1. Does this still suffer from the limit that can be exported?
    I seem to highlight a lot and kindles own highlight page is little use for many of my books.

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