Why Apple iBooks Highlighting Sucks

I use highlights in ebooks to create excerpts, which I save in Evernote. If I want to fresh up my mind about the ideas of the book, I just have to read the excerpt.

In my opinion this is done easier reading a single file than to flip through a book to hunt for the highlights or use the highlight index, which interrupts immersing myself in the text. I do this both in Kindle and iBooks ebooks.

While the Kindle highlights and notes can be seen on your Kindle page on kindle.amazon.com, the iBooks highlights and notes can only be exported via email. And this export is creating a bunch of problems, which shouldn’t be. Most likely copyright holders aka publishing companies asked Apple to do this. So here are the problems, which drive me nuts.

Highlights Are Omitted From Export

Hightlights, which are too long, won’t be exported via email. And there is no warning or notification, because it happens silently in the background.

Highlights Are Exported in the Wrong Order

Highlights and notes are exported in the order they were made. That means highlights made at an earlier time will be ordered before those made at a later time. This is bad, because if you re-read the book and highlight new passages, they will be out of order when exporting. The exported text will be harder to read and out of context.

What is especially bad is both problems combined: you realized while exporting that some highlights are missing. You succumb to the tedious work of splitting up the highlights: deleting the highlight first, then creating several smaller highlights for the deleted highlight. Because these are made at a later time than the ordinary highlights you made when reading the book linearly, the result is an out-of-order export.

Thanks, Apple, for ordering highlights by time and not location. And thanks, publishing companies, for thinking I’m going to highlight all content of your books to publish them somewhere on the internet.