I want to follow up with the Kindle highlights. I’ve done some digging at Amazon and in Kindle forums. The highlights are “popular” highlights and to be a “popular” highlight and therefore appear on Kindles that have the view other reader’s highlights feature turned on, a passage must be highlighted at least three times. So there could be all kinds of other passages highlighted but they don’t show up because there are less than three readers who highlighted them. I suppose this makes sense because if all the highlights of readers appeared in popular books the entire book could potentially be highlighted.

That makes that one odd highlight even odder to me then. Before reader number four could highlight it, it had to have been highlighted by three other people independently. As one mystery is solved, another is created. Why did those first three people highlight that short, half-sentence?

I do feel better knowing that highlights start out as independent. I still wonder though if after they begin appearing in the book whether subsequent readers are more likely to highlight them.

On a side note, on the Kindle forum I was digging through, a large number of people were freaked out at the prospect of their highlights showing up in the books of others. One poster noted that personal information is not attached to one’s highlights making it not much different than if you had underlined passages in a print book and then sold it to a used bookstore. Nonetheless, there was so much freaking out about invasion of privacy that a vigorous debate broke out with several individuals very upset that Amazon looked over their shoulders while they read. But as one clear-headed person pointed out, if you didn’t read the privacy policy when buying your Kindle, it is your own fault and you have no right to be upset. While I agree, I also understand not reading the fine print. After all it is written in the most boring legalese that will put off all put the most intrepid or paranoid reader.

Enough of Kindle highlights. While we are on the topic of e-books, did you see the piece in the Guardian today with Jonathan Franzen warning that ebooks are corroding values? He pretty much says that serious readers only read print books. Guess I’m not a serious reader. It is clear that Franzen learned nothing from the Oprah debacle which means the most fun part about the article is the comments where the snark flies fast and furious. Enjoy.