Disclaimer: This is very much a mind-dump. I've not spent too much time researching loads of existing services at this point.
One of the things I love most about reading ebooks is the ability to highlight passages without spoiling the book. I've encountered printed books with highlights in the past and they often just end up looking messy. I like printed books to be as well kept as possible, so scrawling all over them is the last thing I want.
Having said that, with printed books, all you need is a pen to highlight something. With digital formats, it has to be baked in. Readmill initially rolled out their Android app sans-highlighting (which arrived in a more recent update) and Readability has yet to roll it out as a feature.
Some services have rolled out highlighting in the browser but whenever I've tried them, they leave something to be desired in the way they work. I've seen some require the user to go in search of a button located somewhere in the browser menu area which ultimately interrupts the reading experience (something I've written about before specifically on the Kindle).
And another thing I find jarring is the fact that these things are stored here, there and everywhere. Readmill has made some headway into solving this issue with their Kindle highlight import feature, but that's about it.
Do one job, really well
As I've said, some services have highlighting features in the browser but they're part of a bigger product with features I don't really need or have already covered off by other long engrained services.
What I'd really like to do is try out a little project which handles highlighting really, really well. I've sketched up a basic desktop process which handles the hightlighing and saving in a way which has minimal impact on the user's reading:
And I created a very quick mockup in sketch app:
The primary function being simply highlighting the passage, saving it, then getting on with your day but it also includes the option to share on social networks too.
In my mind, the end goal is to have a single place for all your highlights, not just from your browser, but import your Kindle and Readmill bookmarks too.
I've no idea how achiveable this is but I'd love to try it out. If you have any thoughts, know of any good apps that may already do this or fancy helping me bring this idea to life, give me a prod on Twitter.