I would agree with Ruth Franklin. And just to add a few thoughts of my own–like the vast majority of stuff on the Internet (doubtless plenty of stuff on this blog included), Amazon’s Public Notes is a fun way to kill a little time but probably won’t lead to much of enduring value in your life.
After all that, I wish I could report that the notes were brilliant, revelatory, worth every frustrating click. Alas. First of all, Amazon registers people as having made Public Notes for a book when they have simply turned on the Public Notes feature. For example, the site says that 50 people have made notes on The New Oxford American Dictionary (which comes free on new Kindles), but, when you call up the list of people, each has a 0 in the Notes column. In other words, this dictionary is listed as the book with the greatest number of notes, when, in fact, it has none.
Once I actually managed to find some notes, they reminded me of those dark corners of Twitter where no one seems to be able to spell or complete a sentence. The first note listed on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was by someone identifying himself only as Eugene. Commenting on the line “‘And even if my head would go through,’ thought poor Alice, ‘it would be of very little use without my shoulders,’” Eugene wrote: “Head without shoulders – sorry sight :( ” The notes on The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes were a little more satisfying: Someone named Gregory Gridin queried a reference to the “Trepov murder.” But most of the readers who wrote decipherable comments were simply giving a thumbs-up to their favorite passages.
Some of this isn’t the users’ fault: Amazon has chosen to limit each note to 100 characters, which the FAQ also doesn’t advertise