Friday, May 24, 2013

Popular Highlights #Kindle Feature - Kathryn Knight

I recently discovered an exciting addition to Gull Harbor's buy page: Popular Highlights.  Since this was a new feature I'd never noticed before, I did a little research.  Apparently when a certain number of Kindle readers highlight the same passage from a novel, that passage is listed at the bottom of the page on Amazon for others to enjoy.  As a writer, I'm thrilled with this feature.  I get to see what Gull Harbor's readers found important or meaningful.  It's a new way to interact with readers, albeit one-sided and anonymous.  The only drawback I can see is that some of the popular highlights contain spoilers, which could ruin the experience for a reader contemplating a purchase.

No spoilers here, I highlighted this myself from Ch. 2

However, as I quickly researched how this feature works, I noticed some controversy among Kindle users.  As a reader, I don't usually highlight things.  I save my highlighting for my messy, handwritten notes on my current work-in-progress--and I use a thick, old-fashioned yellow marker.  But even if I did highlight while reading e-books, I don't think I'd mind other readers seeing what I found interesting, especially in aggregate form on a buy page.  Some people prefer their highlighted excepts to stay private, however--and that is an option which can be controlled by simply turning off the feature via menu and settings.

Popular highlights can also show up within the book, as the Kindle owner is reading, if the feature is enabled.  Some readers enjoy having the opportunity to note passages that grabbed previous readers' attention.  Others find it distracting enough to pull them out of the story, which is never a good thing when one is immersed in a great read.  And lastly, some critics suggested the appearance of pre-highlighted material keeps readers from recognizing important plot points on their own or from making their own decisions about what is meaningful.

There's no doubt the tremendous growth of both e-readers and the technology which fuels them presents opportunities for significant changes in reading habits.  How do you feel about the Highlights Feature?

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