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Blinkist Review (2020) – Is It Worth It?

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Have you ever wished that you could read a condensed version of a book with just the key points? If so, Blinkist will be of interest to you. Based in Berlin, this is a company that began in 2012 and has since been on a pretty steady growth curve:

As an avid reader myself, I was quite curious about Blinkist. If you already know everything about Blinkist and just want to hear what I think of it, my opinion is that Blinkist is a great service, and if you like the sound of it, you should sign up for it. You get exactly what’s advertised.

What is Blinkist?

Blinkist is a book summary service for busy people. Many of us want to read a lot of books — there are those who claim to read 1 book a week, or even 1 book a day — but we don’t have time. Moreover, it can be frustrating that a lot of books can tend to drag on and over-explain crucial points. You often just want to be able to absorb the main points and lessons of a book without spending hours, days and perhaps weeks reading it on and off. That’s where Blink comes in: with Blink, you get roughly 15-minute-long text and audio summaries of a wide variety of books. That allows you to take in the main points of a wide range of books without spending dozens or hundreds of hours of reading.

Currently, as of March 2020, Blinkist has over 3,000 titles in their book library, with 40 new titles added each month. Over 13 million users have joined Blinkist and their app had been nominated by Apple as one of the best apps in the App Store. So there are plenty of people who have found value with Blinkist.

How does Blinkist generate summaries of books?

Through good old fashioned hard work. You may be wondering, as I had been, if this was some kind of AI/machine-learning algorithm that summarizes books automatically. It’s not. Taken from blinkist.com/en/about:

We collaborate directly with authors as well as combing bestseller lists, new releases and recommendations to find the most intriguing books, which our expert readers distill into short Blinks, fact-checked and quality assured by Blinkist editors.

So there is no automation going on here, and Blinkist’s summaries are the result of Blinkist’s employees doing the hard work of checking out the latest new books and book recommendations, reading them and making bullet points of the main points, and then rewriting the book so that it’s condensed into a 15-minute-long version.

What kind of books are on Blinkist?

Being that Blinkist writes summaries manually and that’s a time-consuming job, they can only ever cover a fraction of all the new books being released each week (as mentioned above, they add around 40 new titles each month). However, while you won’t necessarily find every book you’re ever interested in on Blinkist, you’ll certainly get a very wide range of books in Blinkist. There are loads of different categories of books that Blinkist will summarize. Here’s the category list from Blinkist’s website:

Thus, of the existing 3,000+ books on Blinkist and the 40 new ones being added each month, you’ll see a very wide range of books. But as you’d expect, you are only going to find reasonably popular books on Blinkist — they are not going to summarize a book with only a couple of reviews on Amazon. Here are the latest 9 books added to Blinkist (taken 6 March 2020):

Each one of these books has made a reasonable splash, as with practically every book I looked up that Blinkist has. Only having reasonably popular books is not really a downside of Blinkist, though, unless you want a summary for some specific book(s) that they may not have or ever have. Also, even if a book is extremely popular, that also doesn’t necessarily mean Blinkist will have it. It’s up to the author of the book whether they want to give permission of Blinkist to add it, after all.

Does the Blinkist app work well?

Yes — Blinkist offers both an iOS and Android app, along with a desktop (web browser) app. These allow you to both read and listen to their book summaries, browse new books and create a library of titles. Here’s what it basically looks like:

For me personally, I just use the website on my desktop computer. Here’s an example of what it looks like when I’m reading a book (Imagined Communities) on my computer:

On the left, you see the main points (the “blinks”) that Blinkist has made for this book; each one is just a few paragraphs long. On the right is the text, which is nice and big. And along with (or instead of) reading, you can listen to the audio Blinkist has recorded of them reading out their summary.

What is Blinkist’s pricing?

If you look at the in-app purchases of Blinkist’s iOS app, you may be a bit confused:

Same with the pricing given on the Android app:

But here’s how it works, put simply: Blinkist costs a very reasonable $4.99/month or $49.99/year.

Are there any Blinkist discount codes?

No coupon codes per se, but you can try this for a 20% discount: https://www.blinkist.com/nc/discount

Blinkist also offers a 7-day free trial that lets you get an idea of the service (just remember to cancel before the 7 days are up if you don’t like it).

What are the alternatives to Blinkist?

There are quite a few alternatives to Blinkist. Here’s are the ones I’ve identified:

  • Booknotes ($89.99/year with over 700 titles – inferior to Blinkist in my view)
  • Snapreads ($14.99/month – 3 times as expensive as Blinkist, and again not worth it IMO)
  • ReadingIQ (for kids 2 to 12)
  • getAbstract (contains over 20,000 books, and has similar pricing to Blinkist – worth checking out)
  • Instaread (similar or identical pricing to Blinkist, though with under 1,000 total books)
  • BookRags (focused specifically on educational resources like essays and lesson plans)
  • Quiddity (a free service, but with only ~150 titles – worth checking out)

The closest (and best) services to Blinkist from the list above are getAbstract and Instaread, so check them out if you’re looking for alternatives.

Is Blinkist worth it?

In my view, yes. Blinkist’s summaries of the books I looked at are quite well-written and the audio recordings are very professional (the same quality as you’d get from a commercial audiobook). And at a price of only around $5/month, it’s definitely good value for money.

What do other people say about Blinkist?

We put out a request for people to let us know what they thought about Blinkist, and got some great submissions. Here’s what we received:

I’ve extensively used Blinkist for about a year. I’m no longer a subscriber though I sometimes still subscribe for specific months.

I used Blinkist mainly to see if I wanted to read the full book. Summaries are a great way to see if a book is worth reading.

Some books are actually just a few key ideas plus hundreds of pages of fluff. This is extremely easy to tell when reading a Blinkist summary and helps me skip books or get the one lesson the book really shares without the time and effort of reading the full book.

If reading the summary gets me intrigued by the ideas or makes me feel like there isn’t enough there, usually it’s a sign of a great book and thus I end up purchasing either the audio version or the physical book for a full read.

If I were purely using Blinkist as my only knowledge and reading source, I would not say it’s very valuable, but as a curation tool that helps me focus my time on reading the highest impact things, it’s extremely valuable. Books are long and time is valuable.

— Joanna Smith, Wired For Youth

I tried BLINKIST and LOVED IT: Hi there Katie!

I’ve been using BLINKIST since 2018, and it’s been a great way to get inspired first thing in the morning while I sip my coffee. The summaries are short but packed, very informative, and give you a good idea as to whether or not you want to invest in buying the book.

As a business owner, I use it to improve my business skills by reading mindset Blinks. As a relationship-based business, I get to use it to preview book recommendations. As a personal development junkie, I get to check out Blinks from authors like James Clear, Tim Ferriss and Marie Kondo.

— Nancy Ruth Deen, Hello Breakup

re: Blinkist (so worth it): I once hated reading.

But now….

I’m an avid reader.

Actually it was probably from childhood nightmares of being forced to read what I didn’t like.

But then you pick up that one book you love and your hooked.

Until you get another book that is terrible 🙁

Then you stop reading again.

Then you find Blinkist.

What I love about Blinkist is how fast you can hear an overview of a new book and read their summary to determine if it’s good or not.

For me, when I enjoy a Blink, I take it one step further.

I go to Stitcher (my favorite podcast app) and type in the authors name.

Most authors do the podcast circuit when they have a new book.

If you enjoyed the Blink (only 10 minutes) and then you go to Stitcher and listen to the author get interviewed by 1 or 2 podcasters, you’ll have a good understanding if you like the book.

Now when you buy the book, you won’t waste money and you won’t put the book down.

Now you’ll always read books you love.

I’m a big fan of Daymond John who wrote The Power of Broke.

I did this exact process with the book and now can’t wait for the Blink on his new book called Powershift.

— Mike Kawula, Help A Teen

Blinkist is good for you to quickly inspect a book and find out the gist of it. From there you can then have an overview of what the central message of the book is, whether you’re interested to investigate further or find out more about what’s discussed by an author in his/her book.

Other than that it’s also good for the books that you’d like to read to get only the general information required (be it for the purpose of participating in the conversation or any material that you’d like to work on). After all, I believe all of us have a never-ending reading list and Blinkist is our savior for that.

I would suggest you make a simple experiment to judge it on your own:

Try taking a book that you had read/are reading analytically (and with that I mean you’re digesting the whole book with a critical mind throughout and analyze it to reach your conclusion on top of absorbing what’s been delivered by the author) and compare it with the summary on Blinkist. You’ll quickly get a feel of how much you’ll miss by actually reading a book and using Blinkist.

In my personal opinion, I think Blinkist is great to be used as a complement to our reading but not substituting/relying on it for reading.

— Kenny Trinh, Netbooknews

I used Blinkist for nearly a year when they first came out (beginning of subscription <https://www.screencast.com/t/dwq7dwc2lx> and end of subscription <https://www.screencast.com/t/ihE4yCNz>).

The summaries were amazing. The product was easy to use. The selection was really broad. But it was not worth it to me for two reasons.

First, I felt like I gained plenty of awareness with little understanding. I felt like I had plenty of awareness of new ideas via blog posts & social media, so without the deeper understanding of a book, there was little reason to pay for Blinkist.

Second, it still required plenty of time & curation on my part. Both my Blinkist reading time & my Blinkist research came at the expense of my book reading time. In the end, I used it heavily for a year and then cancelled.

Nate Shivar

I’ve used Blinkist for the last few years now and think it’s absolutely worth it for people who actually want to digest (non-fiction) books for their content and actionable information. Overall, I’ve really enjoyed the service, think the summaries are quality, and genuinely think the performance is solid to good. I’ve used it in a few distinct ways:

1) As a replacement for books that I don’t want to read but might learn from 2) As a supplement/study-guide for books I’ve quickly listened to on audible 3) As notes for books I’ve read previously but failed to retain or take notes from.

Some ways I’ve used it that failed miserably:

4) As a summary/digest for narrative-style non-fiction books like biographies or vignettes — Elon Musk and Inside the Plex both come to mind as poor experiences vs reading the actual books. A biography or vignette format of a book primarily conveys information through the narrative/plotline. The power of the message comes from absorbing most if not all of the details in the story arc. That means it’s difficult to summarize and retain power. I find it’s a poor experience.

5) Creating a playlist for commuting — I commute on a bicycle and love listening to audiobooks or podcasts on the way to work. The Blinkist interface makes creating the sequencing of a playlist difficult and the summaries do a good job of delivering a ton of information quickly, which combine to make passive listening foolish, bordering on painful.

Rob McGrorty

Katie Holmes

I am the lead editor of OutwitTrade and an accomplished data analyst, writer and internet marketer. I was motivated to help to build up this publication after being frustrated with most review websites being obviously biased, wrong, or which didn't seem to even test the products they were reviewing. Now, I spend 20+ hours every week reviewing products, conversing with our contributors, and reaching out to different companies.

Before joining OutwitTrade.com I had several years of experience in online marketing, advertising and SEO before also working as an analyst at Hertz for over 2 years.

In my spare time I like drawing, creating music and reading. 🙂

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/katie-holmes-sydney
Twitter: https://twitter.com/outwit_trade
Katie Holmes
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Blinkist
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Software Name
Blinkist
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iOS, Android, webbrowser
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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. blinkisttuser

    March 15, 2020 at 6:53 am

    Blinkist is NO SUBSTITUTE for reading a real book! The summaries they give will NOT tell you everything you should know about most topics. To understand something fully, you should get and read the full book. Blinkist is only good if you want to know what a book is about and then if you want to get the full book. If you find the Blinkist summary useful, you should buy the book!

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