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A portion of the patent, showing how Amazon would analyze ebooks read on one device for quotes being included on a second device.
A portion of the patent, showing how Amazon would analyze ebooks read on one device for quotes being included on a second device.

In a world where copy and paste is commonplace, typing out quotes should be a thing of the past. But even with the rise of ebooks, it’s still practically impossible to get quotes from your textbook into your term paper without manually retyping them.

A popup would let you get the quote just right.
A popup would let you get the quote just right, especially when using a quote with a common opening.

That could lead to costly errors if your professor is a strict grammarian, or if your typo is especially bad. However, Amazon may be here to save the day, by leveraging its huge library of digitized books.

A new patent awarded to the Seattle-based tech giant describes a system that detects when you start typing a quote, and automatically fills it in for you, by analyzing the text of books or documents you’ve been reading — even if the source material is on another device, like a Kindle.

According to the patent, Amazon’s software would start looking for quotes as soon as you type a specific character (like the double-quote), searching through your most recently read books (according to your Kindle history, most likely). Once it finds the quote you’re typing, it would present a series of possible quotes, then fill in the rest once you’ve chosen the right one.

The patent is aimed not just at students writing term papers, but also lawyers, reporters, book club members or anyone who wants to write down a new quote that they can’t just copy and paste. However, it does appear to be limited to books purchased in a digital format (and would likely be restricted to Kindle books if ever introduced in a consumer product).

While this may make filling 10 pages a little easier, it also may be used to restrict overuse of copy-pasting from one book, putting a damper on fears of ebook piracy. “The placed quotes may also be subject to one or more quote restrictions,” the patent reads. “For example, a publisher may specify that no more than ten percent of the publication is to be quoted in a single document.”

The patent would definitely be helpful in some situations, but it’s not clear how Amazon could put it to use right now. The company doesn’t have a word processing program on the market, and likely won’t be making one soon. Amazon could allow third party developers like Microsoft or Google to license the technology for Word or Google Docs plugins. Whatever the approach, Amazon would clearly be in a strong position pursue a system like this, thanks to its Kindle library, which dominates the ebook industry.

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