Zettelkasten Forum


Ebook Workflow

I've enjoyed watching the videos showing the process of, well, processing books. I am curious about people's workflows for processing e-books. I do almost all my reading on my Kindle Paperwhite, which does a great job of capturing highlights but is is a bit more cumbersome for anything more than that.

As a result, my workflow is usually to highlight the interesting passages, download them to my computer through Readwise.io, and then making another layer of fleeting notes based on the highlight. It's not the worst, but it's less than ideal. It can create more of a delay between the point at which I start reading something and the point at which I am in a position to create literature notes from the fleeting notes. The Kindle also seems to add a lot of friction when tracking down the original sources.

I don't think that I would switch back to physical books for a number of reasons (cost, storage space, convenience), so I am curious about how others have tuned their workflow for e-readers.

Comments

  • My workflow for ebooks varies a little based on the text. I've found the when reading the most engaging ebooks reading with a pen in hand and paper notebook on my lap is mandatory. Kindle's note-taking capabilities are shit.

    When the material is real engaging I'll sometimes read and just highlight a chapter before returning to the chapter and looking at my highlights before proceeding with the next chapter. This gives continuity and a sense of uninterrupted flow. Sometimes I feel I'll lose my idea so I'll stop and handwrite a note in my trusty notebook. I reference the note with either the page number or the Kindle location number.

    When processing the ebook, I find printing the Kindle notes and then limiting my focus to the printed material and my notebook helps with fleshing out my own ideas. I use the Idea Index Method to great a structure note.

    @djdrysdale said:
    The Kindle also seems to add a lot of friction when tracking down the original sources.

    Yes, this is a weakness of a Paperwhite but not so much a tablet with the Kindle app installed. I know about the advertizing around the visual superiority of the Paperwhite but that comes at the cost of friction of notetaking, tracking down original sources, and ties you into the expensive and proprietary Amazon ecosystem. I like scribd.com, and I also have 100's of Kindle books.

    I don't think that I would switch back to physical books for a number of reasons (cost, storage space, convenience), so I am curious about how others have tuned their workflow for e-readers.

    Me either. I continue to evolve my ebook workflow and try and get more material into the ebook format so I can read on the go. I'm using this technique for processing web clippings that I store in Evernote, something the Kindle can't help with but long PDF's can seem very much like Kindle Ebooks when reading them.

    Will Simpson
    I'm a Zettelnant.
    Research: Rationalism, Zen, Dzogchen, Non-fiction Creative Writing
    kestrelcreek.com

  • edited October 17

    You can just treat it like a physical book? (my approach)

    Typically as I read, I create an idea index on any sheet of paper I have access to or in apple notes if I don't have paper. If it is important for me to have a direct quote, I will highlight it and then send all the highlights to my dropbox.

    Idea Index to me looks like a long bullet list

    • Name of Idea - pg. 3, 21, 56
    • Name of Idea - pg. 5, 25, 30
    • Etc

    Depending on what my schedule is like, at the end of the day I will go through the idea index and extract all the ideas listed, turning them into notes or adding details to existing notes.

  • edited October 17

    Yes what @Nick said.

    This is what my idea index looks like.
    Hold your nose, sausage being made. Please pardon the poor spelling, grammar, and handwriting. This is not meant for public consumption. I only share it here because I love you guys and you won't make fun of me.

    Notice I have an entry titled References Follow UP. This is where I put ideas I want to track down the original sources.

    The entries are crossed out once I've created the zettel.
    In this way, 30 highlights became 6 zettel as part of a structure note processing my ideas on this book.

    Will Simpson
    I'm a Zettelnant.
    Research: Rationalism, Zen, Dzogchen, Non-fiction Creative Writing
    kestrelcreek.com

  • Sometimes I feel I'll lose my idea so I'll stop and handwrite a note in my trusty notebook. I reference the note with either the page number or the Kindle location number.

    Typically as I read, I create an idea index on any sheet of paper

    Maybe I do need to add paper back. I've been resistant, because I often read on my Kindle in situations where writing in a notebook is inconvenient for some reason (on a bus, when I took a bus to work, for example). But the concept of the idea index seems simple enough that it might provide an answer.

    This is what my idea index looks like.

    Thanks, @Will, for the concrete example of the sausage getting made. :smiley: That's quite helpful. I do like my Paperwhite for a lot of reasons, and while I do have a tablet the e-reader experience is not as pleasant. (I do notice the brightness and heft compared to the Paperwhite.) I use Calibre to work around some of the technical limitations.

  • @djdrysdale said:
    I've enjoyed watching the videos showing the process of, well, processing books. I am curious about people's workflows for processing e-books. I do almost all my reading on my Kindle Paperwhite, which does a great job of capturing highlights but is a bit more cumbersome for anything more than that.

    I agree with @Will that both the highlighting and the note-taking aspects of Kindle are terrible. I do most of my book reading (fiction and non-fiction) using the Kindle app on my iPad but I don't bother trying to note anything in that app, which would be a waste of time. Instead, I also keep iA Writer open on my iPad and take fleeting notes as I read. Then within a day or so, I process those fleeting notes into my ZK. So I use the same approach as if I was reading a paper book.

Sign In or Register to comment.