NPR commentator Andrei Codrescu is upset that passages on his Kindle ebook reader are, all of a sudden, turning up pre-highlighted:

"I'm reading a new book I downloaded on my Kindle and I noticed an underlined passage. It is surely a mistake, I think. This is a new book. I don't know about you, but I always hated underlined passages in used books.... And then I discovered that the horror doesn't stop with the unwelcomed presence of another reader who's defaced my new book. But it deepens with something called view popular highlights, which will tell you how many morons have underlined before so that not only you do not own the new book you paid for, the entire experience of reading is shattered by the presence of a mob that agitates inside your text like strangers in a train station..." (listen to the full 3 minute broadcast, read the transcript)

I'm with him, I too would be mightily irritated to have spent hundreds of dollars on an ebook reader and more on books to read on it, to find that said books came with pre-underlined passages. Or worse - while I'm reading, a newly underlined passage could just appear like that, as if someone has lolloped onto my lap and scribbled a note on the book as I'm holding it!

The good news is that it is possible to turn off the "Popular Highlights" feature. The bad news is that, according to the Kindle community forum, there's a fair amount of confusion about how to do so, not least because when the "Popular Highlights" option says "Off" it actually means "On," and vice versa!

Anyhow, thanks to the nice folks at GalleyCat here's how to turn off this feature if it's getting on your nerves...

How To Turn Off Popular Highlights on the Kindle
1. Press the "Home" button to return to your Home screen.
2. Press the Menu button.
3. Select "Settings" on the menu.
4. Select "off" for the Popular Highlights setting.

How To Turn Off Popular Highlights on the Kindle iPhone or iPad App
1. Press the "Home" button to return to your Home screen.
2. Press the "i" button at the bottom right-hand corner of the screen.
3. Select "off" for the Popular Highlights setting.

Note that if the menu shows the setting as "On" that means the "Popular Highlights" function is actually off; conversely, if the menu displays "Off" the function is on. Although this sounds like Alice in Wonderland style logic, it's in line with many electronic menus where the display options don't display the settings you currently have, but what the setting will be if you click the button.

Please also note that these instructions do not apply to printed books where a simple pencil ("On") and eraser ("Off") will do the job quite satisfactorily.

-- Davina, BookBrowse Editor

Thank you Sooooo much! I hate underlined things in books - the horror at having just stumbled on my first kindle book with underlines all over it. Who the hell would want that?! Have just switched it off!
# Posted By nicki | 3/15/11 3:51 AM
Those underlines were driving me crazy! Thank you for this!
# Posted By Ray | 1/5/14 6:10 PM
Popular highlights ruined my Kindle experience (though I thought the first time it was because I was using the library. Then I bought a book and was a little unhappy). All sorted now thanks to the above, you saved my kindle :D
# Posted By Sarah | 4/3/14 11:35 AM
Note, go to settings bottom right and then you may have to swip the menu up to reveal the 'other' option which then reveals the highlight option. I was holding my ipad in landscape position and the 'other' option wasn't displayed, it is in the portrate position! I hope that helps someone.
# Posted By Glen | 4/21/14 1:46 AM
For android:
Go to library, there click the menu icon, go to settings and deactivate away.
Thanks for the article! I so approve of the inflationary use of the word 'moron' in this regard.
Found out that the 'public highlights' in my current book had been underlined by three (!) people. Whaaaa... of what help is this ought to be to me? Thanks again, enjoy ur unblemished reads. Cheers!
# Posted By lutz | 12/5/15 12:41 AM
# Posted By Laurent | 12/11/15 10:45 AM
Thank you so much for the step-by-step solution to this unspeakable problem.
# Posted By Mark Foreman | 1/1/16 6:48 PM
Thanks from me as well. I couldn't understand what was going on.
# Posted By Brian jones | 1/24/17 4:11 AM
Obviously this is an old post...but why would you get mad instead of figuring out how to change the setting and just doing that?

This can be a powerful feature for people who want to use it, and for those like you that don't want the book "spoiled" by a previous reader, just turn it off.
# Posted By Jason | 2/7/18 5:57 AM
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