How to automatically archive quotes from ebooks in a single document

Marvin book reader for iPhone iPad - send text by emailOne of the biggest benefits of ebooks is that you can instantly highlight text passages and add notes to them. What you can do with these extras depends on the app you use.

Some ebook reading devices and applications don’t allow to send highlights and notes via email, but some, like Marvin app for iPhone and iPad, give this useful option.

You can obviously send all highlighted texts via email to Evernote, but I personally don’t like to spam by Evernote account with too many short note that should in fact belong to one note.

Instead, I created a way to collect all interesting passages found in ebooks into a single document.

What you’ll need is a Gmail/Google Drive account (you’ll send these quotes to yourself).

Creating an automated task will include two steps:

  • creating a filter in Gmail that applies a label to emails with book quotes
  • creating an IFTTT recipe that appends labeled emails to a single document in Google Drive

How to archive quotes from ebooks in a single document

1. Before I move on to Gmail set up, I’d like to share a simple way to automate a process in the Marvin iOS book reader. The app lets customize the toolbar that pop ups above the highlighted text. You can add a command here to send selected text by email.

To do that, go to app’s home screen, tap on gear icon in the top left corner, and swipe right to reveal Menu set. Tap on one of Customize buttons. From a list of presets shown underneath, pick up the one saying “Email selected text to a friend”. A dialog box will display – type in your email address here.

Now you’re ready to quickly send emails from Marvin app (screenshot below: right side).

Marvin book reader for iPhone iPad set up email

2. It’s time to set up Gmail account. If you are familiar with how to use Filters it won’t be a difficult job.

Click on Settings (gear icon in the top right corner of email list), then Filters. At the bottom you’ll find a link saying “Create new filter”. Click on it.

In the field labeled Has the words type “Sent via Marvin” or “Marvin” (reason: every mail from Marvin app ends with a phrase “Sent via Marvin”). If you are using a different app, try to find the most specific word that appears by default in an email body or title. For instance, if you want to automate the task from Feedly, type “Feedly” in the Has the words field.

To be certain no accidental emails will land in the destination document, you can also type your email address in From and To fields – you are sending an email to yourself.

Click on Continue. Now, create a new label (I used “Marvin highlights”) and check the box Apply the label. From now on, all emails from Marvin app will be labeled “Marvin highlights”.

Create archive of book quotes  - set Gmail label

3. Step three is to create an IFTTT recipe that will append every email from Marvin to a single document in your Google Drive.

We’re huge fans of IFTTT here, as this is extremely useful web-based tool that can automate a lot of daily (and boring) tasks. For instance, here is a selection of IFTTT recipes for ebook lovers.

To use IFTTT, you’ll have to sign up, and then add Gmail as a channel.

Now, from a top bar choose Create Recipe, and pick Gmail as a Trigger channel. From a list of six available options, select “New email labeled”. In the next step write down the name of the label you’ve just created in Gmail, and click on Create Trigger button.

Create archive of book quotes - create IFTTT recipe step 1

Pick up Google Drive as an Action channel, and then select the action “Append to a document”. In the next step you’ll fill the details: the name of the document (I’ve chosen “Book quotes”), and the path (I’ve left it empty so it will be placed in the main directory of Google Drive).

In the content I removed all text except the very content of the email and a break line to clearly separate quote from quote (see screenshot below).

Create archive of book quotes - setting up IFTTT - step 2

The IFTTT recipe is ready. When you’ll send the email from Marvin for a first time, IFTTT will create a document and add email’s body text automatically.

• • •

I realize this trick seems to be complex to set up, but if you’re familiar with IFTTT you’ve probably set up actions more advanced than that.

And last thing: this IFTTT/Gmail automated task works for any text sent via email, no matter which app you use for that.

[ef-archive number=5 tag=”IFTTT” ]


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