Monday, September 24, 2012

Posting Kindle Clippings Addendum. Chrome option.

Something I noticed using Chrome:

    You can clip to from your page if

  • You are using Chrome and...
  • You have the Findings Extension.
Like so:

This won't be the same as the old synchronization of clippings, but you can add a note to identify the source.  And once clipped it can be shared to your Facebook, Pintrest, Tumblr via

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

How To Build a Commonplace Book With Your Kindle

Commonplace book mid 17th century
If you are like me, you've compiled a lot of highlights using your Kindle.  They're all stored - many, if not most have been stored twice.

First: Any books you have from Amazon can save their highlights (and notes) "in the cloud."  This requires that you have turned on "whispersync."  Check your account settings at

Second: ANY highlights and notes are stored locally in "My Clippings.txt" - a plain text file in your Documents/ folder on your Kindle.  This is great  - it includes all the books from Amazon, along with periodicals and books from, Smashwords, or any independant source of books.

Now: At this point you already HAVE a Commonplace book.  You can see all your (Amazon book) highlights online at  OR you can copy the My Clippings file off of your Kindle, and store it wherever you want. Just connect your Kindle to a computer, navigate to the Documents directory and copy "My Clippings.txt".  Say, Google Docs, a Dropbox directory, or maybe in your Amazon cloud storage.

By itself this may not be very useful. It's hard to navigate the quotes, and "My Clippings.txt" is in chronological order.  I sort of like that, but it may seem a bit jumbled.  How do you make it more useful?

Head on over to - it's a terrific website that lets you convert your clippings file into a PDF, spreadsheet or RTF file

If you create an RTF file, you could then upload it into Google docs and save the file as a Google doc:

or, you could just upload your clippings file to Docs:

Why should I do that?

Once you make a google doc, you can make a web page!  That means you can publish your notes as a web page - something you can find whenever you want it!    Just  open the Google doc, click on "File" and choose "Publish to the web...".  I recommend linking the Google doc URL to a more friendly URL using or 

Even better that web page lets you link to the quotes!

Try is a great service that lets you build up a commonplace book from web clippings.  Until fairly recently they also had a synchronization service that let you copy your Amazon book clippings automatically.  Though it's too bad this service was discontinued it should be pointed out that it ONLY included books you got FROM Amazon.  For example, Baen, Smashwords, and Gutenberg-sourced books would NEVER have been included.  That's where your web page above comes in handy - it's just ANOTHER web page, right?  You can clip from it - and that means you can use Findings to store and share your clips to Tumblr, Facebook, and Instapaper.

example shows chrome being used to clip.
once clipped to you can share it
... and there it is on Tumblr

To Sum it Up:

  1. Collect your clippings files from your Kindle(s) into a single text file.
  2. Use ClippingsConverter to create a nicely organized file (or keep the file in the plain text file)
  3. Move the document to a web page (using Google docs for example)
  4. Use to select clips that you can share .


This won't pick up Kindle highlighting from the Kindle apps, or the Kindle-for-web.  It also won't have any clips that you didn't collect off of your Kindle (I've had three Kindles so far, and have made sure that I saved my clips from each).

If you don't WANT all your clips available from the clipping file, you can toggle the "publish to the web" on and off from Google docs.  Leaving it public does provide a link back to the original.  I've actually used a variation where I run a private (not available to the public) webserver where I store the clips and usually clip from there.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Keeping a Commonplace book

When our visitor was silent Holmes stretched out his hand and took down letter "S" of his commonplace book.  
The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan 

It was Sherlock Holmes who first introduced me to the "commonplace book" - it was Jeff Bezos who gave me one.

Commonplace books (or commonplaces) were a way to compile knowledge, usually by writing information into books. They became significant in Early Modern Europe.

"Commonplace" is a translation of the Latin term locus communis (from Greek tópos koinós, see literary topos) which means "a theme or argument of general application", such as a statement of proverbial wisdom. In this original sense, commonplace books were collections of such sayings, such as John Milton's commonplace book. Scholars have expanded this usage to include any manuscript that collects material along a common theme by an individual.

Such books were essentially scrapbooks filled with items of every kind: medical recipes, quotes, letters, poems, tables of weights and measures, proverbs, prayers, legal formulas. Commonplaces were used by readers, writers, students, and scholars as an aid for remembering useful concepts or facts they had learned. Each commonplace book was unique to its creator's particular interests.    (

Thanks to my Kindle I've now collected hundreds of notes and clippings.  Everything noted and highlighted - IF I got the book from Amazon - lives on - that was the start.

And then I discovered - a place I could collect ALL my kindle-quotes.  Not only that, but I could highlight texts on the web and paste THEM into my findings.  This was terrific, because Findings let me publish to Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr.  And the material could be searched as well - this put organization into the content that made it more useful than ever.  I was well on my way to being as organized as Sherlock Holmes!

But - something was missing.  Many of my books come from, or, or  How could I add them to my findings?

This isn't a problem  - that is, Kindle maintains a file "My Clippings.txt" that logs all of your highlights and notes - whether Amazon-sourced material or not.  It's a plain text file you can copy off of your Kindle - the trick is getting THAT into a format that will let you clip.

And for that, I have a solution - several, in fact!

... Stay tuned....

Sailing on!

Oh - I created this blog... and then did nothing with it?  That can't be right.

Here's some topics I should think about, and write something about:
  • Reading as a way of life
  • The joy of the Library
  • Used books
  • Audio books
  • Ebooks 
  • Me and my Kindle 
  • Keeping a Commonplace book
  • Using Calibre to manage and CREATE ebooks
  • Capturing "My Clippings.txt" into a Commonplace book
That last may be one of the first.... stay tuned.