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Content marketing tool of the month: how to get your Kindle Highlights into Evernote or MindMeister?

Our approach to content marketing is straightforward: we want to learn new ideas, understand them and present them to our readers in a way that is attractive, even fun, as well as actionable. We want our readers to be able to use what we discovered to get better at their job as a PR pro or marketer. We call that approach "content as a service".

To find and digest all this new knowledge, we read a ton of books and academic papers, and since we read them mostly in e-format, we are heavy users of the Kindle "highlight" tool. The trouble is: once you've made a few dozen (or even hundreds of) highlights, how do you start working with all that material? (Picture: a 'Game of Throne' fan indexed every single death in the GoT books the old school way: with Post Its)

TOOL 1: Bookcision (for books you buy on Amazon)

Currently, when highlighting portions of a book in Kindle, you can read all your highlights at the URL http://kindle.amazon.com, where you log in and see all your notes presented on a web page that, honestly, is a bit of a blast from the past in terms of lay out and usability. The highlights are not searchable, and due to the HTML formatting it's frustrating to copy paste them into other tools like Evernote or MindMeister. I've found myself actually typing them over rather than copy pasting because it's faster.

Recently, I came across a free solution that works great, though: it's called Bookcision. Bookcision allows you to download all your highlights from a particular book and either export it to a file or copy it to your clipboard. I personally copy paste them into Evernote.

content marketing tool bookcision kindle highlight

I've tried it on a few books now - even with hundreds of highlights, and it works like a charm.

Bookcision is not a standalone app at this time - it still requires you to go to the Amazon Kindle Highlights page and extract the highlights manually. Still, this tool will save you hours of valuable time that you can use to actually write great content marketing.

TOOL 2: Sumnotes (for academic papers)

Okay, that's great. But what about academic papers? There is a ton of information out there in recent, juicy academic papers, that is not available in the Amazon store.

I tried importing PDFs into my Kindle app, but unfortunately that has several drawbacks. First of all, converting a PDF into an ebook format is messy. Ebook converters don't handle lay out very well, and anything that was presented in separate boxes (let alone images) in your original PDF will appear at random places in your Kindle book. Good luck making sense of that. 

More importantly, the highlights you make in your Kindle app won't appear in the "Your highlights" section of Amazon. Bummer. 

Some digging turned up Sumnotes, however. Sumnotes allows you to upload an annotated and highlighted PDF, extract the highlights and notes and send them to a format of your choice (Word, Evernote,...). 

Great stuff, but not completely free. Documents are free up to 50 pages, 50 highlights and 5 images - that should be just enough if you want to write a great blog post. If you're writing a PhD dissertation, you'll probably have to upgrade to the moderately priced plans at 6.99 $ per year or 14.99 $ per year. That will buy you 1 million pages, 1 million highlights, 1 million images - I'm sure if you ask nicely they'll allow you to import 2 million.

Let us know what your content marketing workflow is at @finnbe or @rafweverbergh

Updated on 24 August 2014 to include Sumnotes.