Ebooks have grabbed quite a few eyeballs with their lower prices, wide selection and ability to be read on a tablet, reader or computer with a minimum of fuss. While ebooks do have their conveniences, some people are still pondering how to make margin notes or underline their favorite passages in the text, which can come in handy for study or book club reference. But scribbling digitally in your ebooks is rather easy on most of the major platforms.
Take the Amazon Kindle, for example. Whether you’re using a Kindle e-ink or Fire tablet, (or even the apps Amazon makes available to read Kindle books on Windows, OS X, iOS, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone), you can annotate your ebooks. You typically just need to press and hold the word or passage until it highlights or you get an option to make a note within the text.
The notes and highlights you make in your Kindle books are also stored in your account on Amazon’s website — just log in to see them. If you choose, you can make your notes public so other Kindle users can see them on Amazon’s site. Although it can do so anonymously, Amazon’s site also keeps a public list of the most popular highlights from books, if you want to see what other people found noteworthy.
Barnes & Noble’s NOOK e-readers and apps have a similar tap-to-highlight passages and make notes. (You can share your favorite passages on social media if you want to brag on your literary taste.) Kobo, which has a line of e-readers and jumped into welcome users of Sony’s now-defunct Reader hardware also lets you mark up your ebooks.
Got Google Play books, say, on your Android phone or tablet? You can take notes and highlight text there, too. Apple’s iBooks app for its iOS devices and OS X Mavericks Macs adds colorful highlight colors and notes with a tap or click. On the book’s Contents page, you can see all your musings throughout the text listed all in once place for easy reference. Like the Kindle, your annotations sync up between all the iBooks devices you use.
While notes and highlighted passages in electronic books may lack the smudged immediacy or mental scorch-marks from the burst of late-night energy, they do have one major advantage — thanks to search and sync, they’re a lot easier to find within your books. And you also won’t wake up from a cram session with yellow Hi-Liter smeared all over your face.