Readwise Reader

I’ve been reading a few pieces about how much people love the Boox Palma, an e-ink device geared at reading that’s the size and form factor of a smartphone. Craig Mod is especially effusive in his praise of the device. I have a soft spot for Mod, since he published a poem of mine in his newsletter on walking. He is also a dedicated reader and an astute observer of tech trends. When he is this bullish on a device, I take notice. A complementary piece in The Verge by David Pierce recently backed up Mod’s evaluation of the Palma.

Mod has only two apps on the Palma, which runs Android (and therefore has the potential for a lot more). The Kindle app (obvs) and Readwise Reader. The latter provides an environment for ingesting all sorts of reading material. The combo of Reader and the Palma enables something that has long been my most wanted killer feature in a read-it-later app: the ability to read and highlight on an e-ink device. It’s not something that I can do on my current setup of Matter + Kindle Paperwhite. It wasn’t something I could do with Pocket + Kobo Clara. I have to remember what I wanted to highlight when I’m reading the article on my e-reader, then go back to my iPad to find the passage and highlight it. I know, the trials of Robert…

The Palma (and other Boox tablets) solve this problem by allowing full apps like Readwise Reader to run on the Android OS. The highlights you make on your e-reader can then be automatically synchronized to Obsidian or your favorite alternative second-brain PKM software. In my workflow, the details of the article are then sent to iA Writer or Ulysses via a slick combination of regex and Shortcuts in a format that I can add some commentary to and easily publish to my blog.

I’ve found one problem with my dream setup: I don’t like Readwise Reader. I was using it early in the beta period. They even did a video call to onboard me to the beta (which was gracious and helpful). It didn’t stick with me, though. The interface was too cluttered and overwhelming. I found that I much preferred using Matter, with its clean, minimal UX. I’m delighted by Matter. I could only tolerate Reader. When I read about the Boox Palma, I reactivated my Readwise subscription to give it another try. It was the bridge to enabling my most sought-after feature, after all.

It was not to be. I don’t like Reader and I don’t see that changing. Matter doesn’t have an Android App, so there go my dreams, for now. I’ll keep highlighting on my iOS devices like a savage and continue to look at other pastures where the grass may be greener.


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