When I got my first Kindle 1 in 2008, I thought that it would be nice if I had a way to capture ideas while reading, without having to leave a “note” inside the book I was reading, where it might be difficult to find later on. So I created a little “utility” document called “Notepad for Kindle” and offered it as a download on this blog, where it resides to this day. Revisiting the Notepad the other day, I realized that it works just as well today, on the new generation of Kindles, as well as it did when all you could do is use the rollbar from the Kindle 1 to scroll up and down the page.
The Kindle is a superb reading platform. But print books also double as serviceable writing platform (score one for the era spawned by Mr. Gutenberg and his press!). And that difference lies at the heart of one difficulty that the Kindle encounters when it enters the classroom. Students want to mark up their books, put sticky notes on important passages, scribble reminders to themselves in the margins. In fact, as a graduate student I actually transferred the marginalia from one copy of Paradise Lost to another for one of my professors. (That exercise provided a terrific window into an expert’s close reading of the text, by the way.) It is hard to circle things, draw arrows, and annotate all over the place on any ereader, Kindle included. So the lack of a robust writing dimension to the Kindle has hobbled it from the get-go for eager, thoughtful students who want to keep what they write right alongside what they’ve read.
Enter Notepad for Kindle. I tried to think of a way that a reader could capture a thought, a reference, or connection and have an easy way to get to it later. The Notepad became a way to do that without exiting the Kindle environment and without burying the idea deep in a book where it might be difficult to find. Now this is no substitute for scribbles, circles, and arrows, but it does bring a measure of organization to the writing process when you have a Kindle in your hand.
Devices with touch technology, like my iPhone or Android phone, have notepad utilities built in or easily downloadable as apps. When I want to harvest a thought, I simply launch the notepad and type it in. Notepad for Kindle is meant to give a similar capacity to those of us who love to read on our Kindles.
BTW, the Notepad is free from the downloads page of this site. Or you can grab a copy yourself by clicking right here.