The best Kindle Reader for students and researchers is, what, a Mac?

If, like me, you do lots of highlighting and note-taking while reading a book, or if book-reading and note-taking are a part of your professional work-flow (students and researchers of any kind, for example), the frustration of not being able to copy and paste text from a Kindle ebook into a word-processing document is something I don’t need to explain.*

As I haven’t seen “cut and paste” on the Kindle iPad App (what I use for most ebook reading), I wasn’t aware that it was available anywhere else on the Kindle product line of apps or devices.

The copy feature on Kindle for Mac, that's @JeffJarvis' new book, Public Parts

Yet over the weekend, I was without my iPad for a few hours (left it in the car my wife was using) when I wanted to continue reading a book. No problem, I could just fire up the browser-based Kindle Cloud reader on my Mac. But, alas, I discovered it doesn’t have highlighting or note features, much less, the “copy” feature.

So I downloaded the Kindle for Mac, the free Mac OS X software Kindle provides for reading Kindle ebooks on a Mac.

Big surprise: The first time I highlighted some text I discovered the Holy Grail of missing ebook reader features: “Copy.” Not only that, the Kindle for Mac has another break-through feature that I’ve heretofore only seen on the now-defunct iFlow Reader: scroll-down reading, rather than page-flip reading. (Page flipping is so 15th century.)

In the past, I’ve speculated that publishers have prevented the copy feature, fearing that users would spend hours copying books page by page for pirating. As it would be easier to scan in a paper version, I couldn’t quite believe that, so I’m glad to see it was just a missing feature that now exists.

That it’s on a Mac, well, that’s just ironically perfect.

[Update: On October 29, the application was updated with  more features that make this version of Kindle ebook reader better for research-oriented reading.]

*My frustration with the lack of “cut and pasted” on the Kindle iPad app led to this hack I shared in January: How grab a screen shot of a Kindle page on an iPad and use Google Doc’s OCR feature to convert it to text.

  • I’m not sure if this quite meets your needs, but if you send your browser over to and sign in with your Amazon ID, you can access a copy & paste-able list of all your highlights from every Kindle book you’ve ever highlighted on any platform.

  • That’s a handy thing to know, Aaron. I’ve just discovered that part of the Kindleverse recently when I started getting “follow” notifications from it. Has that been around long? I went in and made public the notes / highlights I’ve made in several books — kept the John Grisham novels hidden. ; )

    I like the copy/paste feature of the Mac app because it’s right their in a window next to the document in which I’d like to be pasting it.

  • More than 2 years ago (see this May, 2009, blog post ) but they don’t seem to do a great job publicizing it. There’s no obvious link from the “Manage your Kindle” page which seems like a no brainer place to have one.

  • User helpability isn’t Amazon’s strong suit.