Kindle Footnotes

The only thing about the Kindle’s reading experience that kills me is the footnotes. They function like hyperlinks to the back of the book, which means to visit them you have to use the joystick to navigate word by word to see them, and then use the back button to get back to where you started.

All of footnotes are next to each other which means sometimes you see spoilers in future ones when you don’t want to.

What I think I want is footnotes displayed inline at the bottom of the page, like on a normal book.

Published by Matt

In 2002 I started contributing to Open Source software, and life has just gotten better from there. Co-founder of WordPress, founder Automattic.

17 thoughts on “Kindle Footnotes

  1. Although Matt, if you’re reading the kind of book with that kind of notes – I would have thought seeing the other notes around the current one was hardly “a spoiler”. You’re trying to understanding and use the knowledge it contains ?

    I often read that kind of text / treatise starting with the notes and references … to see what’s new 😉


    1. One recent example was the new Warren Buffett Snowball book, in which seeing a future footnote indicated that his wife Susie passed away, even though I hadn’t gotten to that part of the story yet.


  2. I use wp-footnotes. I like them … they do auto-numbering and have wiki-like a link back to where you found them.


  3. Agreed, footnotes are a far superior reading experience to endnotes, be that in a paper book or an electronic book. Footnotes should be a glance, not a chore.


  4. I’m an e-book publisher, who publishes books with, sometimes, one hundred or more footnotes.

    The problem in e-books is that all kinds of e-book files, Kindle, ePub, Mobipocket, etc., don’t deal properly with footnotes (and many other things we are used to see on p-books). And we still lack a good e-book standard. But, thinking about your problem, I think there is simple thing one publisher could do to prevent this issue: just break the pages, between each note. Would be a little better, don’t you agree?

    But, Matt, why do you use Kindle? The books you buy for it can’t be read with any other e-reader that is not from Amazon. You can’t read them in your computer. If, someday, you change from Kindle to any other e-reader, you wont be able to transfer your books with you. So, you don’t really “own” your Kindle library.


      1. I prefer Sony Reader. Accepts non-proprietary format, read ePub files (the international e-book standard), I can easily read wherever I want (computer, iPhone) and don’t lock me into just one bookseller.

        Anyway, both of them will be museum pieces pretty soon. Nice talk to you! Regards, Eduardo.


      2. I agree with you – the Kindle has been the best reading experience of any e-reader I’ve tried. I love using it.

        And the footnotes are a pain. It is the only weakness for me.


  5. Is the lack of proper footnotes a limitation of the kindle or the ebook format, which is basically html, and that the bottom of the “page” doesn’t actually exist in an ebook?


  6. and now in 2011, I CAN read my kindle books on my computer (Mac or Windows), on any of a number of Kindle devices, on my phone, and on my iPad. It’s also been my experience that many books I have wanted in e-format have been available on Kindle long before they have become available on other formats. Sometimes they never seem to become available on other formats. We had a Sony Reader for years, but once I finally got my Kindle (and my phone, and my iPad, etc.) I have not picked up my Sony. And additionally, as of today, I have yet to find a reader with a faster refresh rate that was as comfortable and convenient.

    None of these are perfect, but when I finally grabbed a Kindle in 2010, I was surprised with how happy I was. Though I stil think the foot and end notes leave something to be desired in all these formats.


  7. Yep, but you’re still closed inside Amazon system. You can’t have a copy/backup of your own; you can’t print if you want or need; and most of all, you can’t be sure that Amazon will not delete your books someday, without asking or warning you first. Very easy to use, sure, but still far from being perfect.


    1. “You can’t have a copy/backup of your own”

      Sure, you can. Just plug the Kindle into a computer copy the Kindle file from the Kindle to the computer’s drive. (The Kindle appears as a mass storage device.) You can save the file on a hard drive, flash drive, even a floppy, if you still have them.

      “you can’t print if you want or need; ”

      There’s this little legal matter called “copyright” in most countries. When a publisher licenses a book for electronic distribution, they may refuse to allow printing, as that is an easy way to make and distribute (even sell) illegal copies.

      Some years ago, David Pogue experimented with an “open” eBook–I think it was in PDF. He found that, within days, it was available on “peer-to-peer” sites and was widely distributed via email and web sites. Sales tanked. He said that he’ll never do that, again.


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