E-Book readers forum: E-readers, note-taking, and research

by: infinitelyimprobable November 10, 2013 2:54 AM PST

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E-readers, note-taking, and research

by infinitelyimprobable - 11/10/13 2:54 AM

Hey! So I'm a grad student in social science, trying to put together a research method that'll let me use an e-reader. The idea is to avoid the expense of print texts and the insanity that comes from staring at a computer screen for twelve hours a day reading books and articles. As a content consumption device, they're perfect.

But any academic will tell you that there's very little point to just reading something; academic practice is all about research with the goal of finding points of commonality, congruence, and contradiction, both within and between sources. In other words, note-taking (a kind of production) is a non-optional part of consumption.

Computers offer the best note-taking possibilities. Digital notes can be sorted, tagged, linked to content, and searched.

But ereaders, the best format for consuming digital text (at least, I think so), are not AT ALL smoothly integrated with digital note-taking systems, although some of them allow PDF markup. The point is that you need the notes to have their own interface, they have to be accessible without opening up the PDF file (or whatever file) and scrolling through it. Lots of computer apps have that functionality - Mendeley, Kindle - but they're still document-specific notes, which makes any real research-relevant organization impossible. So in Kindle, you get great cross-platform syncing of the highlights, underlines, and comments that you make, but to see them, you have to go back to the specific file. And there go all of the benefits of a digital text, because there's no cross-source organization.

I know that Evernote was getting built into some of the Sony readers, which would be incredible, but I don't know if that actually panned out or if they're going to expand.

Any additional information or thoughts on integrating note-taking and e-readers, from anyone, would be very very much appreciated.

I've just bought an Onyx Boox m92 reader, which has great PDF display capabilities and some markup capacity, although I'll have to explore exactly what it can do (my computer is a mid-2009 MacBook Pro running OS 10.8.5). I'm worried that ereaders just don't have enough functionality yet (although a tablet might? But then you don't get the e-ink screen), and the only solution is to use some messy set of handwritten notes, PDF markup, and then typed (seachable, taggable) summaries afterwords.

As I say, all thoughts and advice would be very very welcome, especially about e-readers and apps that I don't know much about.


(Note -- I just tried to revive an old thread on this, but it was very brief, and completely dead, and sort of on the wrong question anyway. Please forgive me if I'm breaching forum etiquette! I didn't mean it. That thread was here: http://forums.cnet.com/7723-19685_102-548724/e-books-as-a-research-notetaking-tool/)

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