Some Context

If you’re reading this, you’ve most probably already heard that there’s a service called Blinkist that offers condensed versions of notable works of non-fiction. To get an idea of why Blinkist is a big deal though, it’s worth zooming out for a while.

The development of writing is widely considered to be among the most important milestones in the history of humanity, allowing people to communicate and thus collaborate on a massive scale, unheard of among any of the other animal species on the planet. Later on, the invention of the printing press in the 15th century opened the doors to the mass-production of books – propelling science, culture and technology to a whole new level..

Contents

What Is Blinkist?

..The variety of new printed works available to the human race has been rising rapidly ever since, but it’s the relatively recent developments in information processing that led to a true book explosion. This is where Blinkist comes in – by offering easy-to-digest versions of popular books, it helps you to better navigate the ever-expanding ocean of human knowledge and wisdom.

There are thousands of book abstracts, or blinks, in the Blinkist library, and new titles are being added all the time. Each blink is structured as a self-contained narrative that can be read in about 15 minutes; it is subdivided into sections for better comprehension, beginning with an intro which gives an idea of what the book is about and “what’s in it for the reader”, and ending with a summary of the book’s key thoughts and pieces of actionable advice.

Blinkist makes sure the abstracts are available in just about any situation by providing several ways to access the content: via a browser-based online service, a mobile app, or even a direct Kindle link.

Blinkist Web Service

Once you create an account with Blinkist, you gain access to the online profile containing your personal library. It has two separate tabs for ongoing and finished reading, where each item is simply a link to the blink with a handy progress indicator at the bottom.

The reading interface has been designed with minimalism in mind, with every detail focused on providing a distraction-free experience. The entire menu has been removed in favour of three buttons: the home link (back to your library), the contents button which open a slide-in overlay with the structure of the current blink, as well as the font size control. Not much, but in reality, that’s all you need to focus entirely on the abstract at hand.

The web service is of course synchronized with the Blinkist mobile app, which allows you to take your reading with you wherever you go. More about this part of the Blinkist offer in the next section.

Blinkist Mobile App

Being the provider of bite-sized bits of knowledge, Blinkist has really made sure that the primary way of consuming such information is as smooth as possible. We’re talking about their mobile app, which covers the (arguably) most popular use cases of Blinkist: reading or listening to blinks on the go – while commuting, walking, or just waiting for a friend to show up in a café.

The app is available (naturally) in both Android and iOS versions; the interface is subdivided into four areas based on the bottom tabs: Discover, Library, Activity, and Profile. The most useful of them is the Library, which lists the blinks you’ve saved into your personal collection. There are filters which allow showing or hiding the blinks is various stages (not started, in progress, finished), with the progress being conveniently hinted by a subtly coloured background bar on each item.

The reading interface is minimalist and distraction-free: the only buttons visible are “back”, “audio”, and “text size”, and even they can be hidden by simply tapping the main text. Swiping right or left flips the page, and the green progress bar at the bottom of the screen conveniently and unobtrusively indicates the current position in the blink.

One of the most useful features of the Blinkist app is the audio versions of the blinks, which allow ingesting them while keeping your eyes and your hands free for other activities – ideal for walking, commuting, jogging, hiking, etc. It should be noted that the audio is only available in the Premium subscription – more on that in the next section.

Blinkist Pricing

The service is built on a freemium model, which means there are both a free version (without an expiration term) as well as paid versions. The former gives you access to one blink per day; the blink is selected automatically, i.e. you don’t get to decide which ones you can read. While useful for acquainting yourself with the service, the free version does not function well as a long-term solution for that same reason. For full access to the entire library of over 2000 book abstracts, you’ll need to get Blinkist Plus.

At a cost of $49.99 per year (which can be reduced to $35 per year for the first year using our exclusive 30% discount), you’ll be able to read any number of blinks at any time you like, as well as unlock passage highlighting (useful for remembering the most interesting places in the blinks you read and getting back to them later). The Plus version also allows storing the blinks locally on your mobile device and reading them without an Internet connection, which is ideal for flights and other transportation modes with low or no network availability.

The Blinkist Premium plan will set you back $79.99 and, in addition to all above mentioned features of Plus, will unlock the full audio versions of all blinks; those can also be stored on your smartphone or tablet for offline listening. Apart from that, you will be able to sync your highlights with your Evernote account and send blinks directly to your Kindle for a more eye-friendly reading experience.

Pros and Cons

In this section we will summarize the advantages of using Blinkist as well as point out certain areas for improvement:

  • Access to condensed summaries of the best non-fiction books gives the opportunity to absorb maximum knowledge and wisdom, flexibly and quickly.
  • Web interface as well as mobile apps for both Android and iOS devices. Possibility to sync the personal blink library into a Kindle.
  • Less expensive than any existing competing service of book abstracts, given the library size and available features.
  • Useful for pre-selecting the books for reading in full as well as acquainting yourself with new ideas, concepts, and facts. Can be synced with an Evernote account.
  • The audio version of the content allows for distraction-free absorption of the abstracts while reducing eye strain.
  • The highlighting feature enables storing specific snippets and retrieving the most important parts of the blinks later on.
  • Possibility to store text and audio versions of blinks in local memory and reading/listening to them later on, regardless of Internet availability.
  • Clean and modern design of both the web and mobile versions of the app; the interface is easy to learn and intuitive to use.
  • While using the mobile app, the library might sometimes need to be refreshed manually (by holding and pulling down on the screen) to stay current with the blinks added from the web interface.
  • It is not yet possible to recommend the blinks you read to other people who use Blinkist directly from within the app (need to share a link instead).

Blinkist for Teams

The company has recently unveiled a new offering, which in practice works like an additional pricing plan: Blinkist for Teams. It works exactly as you’d suspect it would – a bulk subscription option for 10+ people, each getting all the features of Blinkist Premium at a discount. The latter depends on the number of user account you purchase and ranges from 32% ($549 for 10 people, or $54.9 per person per year) to 50% ($1999 for 50 people, or $39.99 per person per year). In order to obtain custom pricing for larger teams you will need to contact Blinkist directly.

Apart from the hefty discount, the main benefits of giving your entire team access to a vast library of condensed bestsellers are better mutual understanding due to multi-disciplinary new knowledge and insights, as well as tighter bonding because of all the additional shared subjects to discuss and books to experience.

Notable Competitors

While Blinkist is not the only non-fiction abstract service in existence, there are certain important features that help it differentiate from similar products. Among the closest competitors, it is worth mentioning getAbstract, Joosr, and Instaread, with the former being the most comprehensive alternative. Let’s see how they stack up against Blinkist:

Blinkist vs getAbstract

While the former focuses primarily on personal and SME use, getAbstract is geared towards corporate clients, offering a library of condensed non-fiction books (some of them highly technical), articles, video talks and economic reports. The collection is much wider than that of Blinkist, offering 5000+ titles for the Starter and Starter+ plans and over 15000 titles for the more advanced plans. The catch? The smaller library does not contain such topics as Leadership, Management, Sales, Finance, and Marketing, which effectively means that these (rather popular) categories are not available for personal plans.

In terms of pricing, getAbstract offers four plans, with the least expensive, Starter, costing $68 per year, which is some 25% more expensive than the comparable Blinkist Plus plan. The audio-enabled Starter+ plan costs $115 per year, which is an even wider price gap compared to the respective Blinkist Premium subscription. The Pro plan with full access to the library will set you back a whopping $348 per year, and the Company plan pricing depends on the specific needs of the user. There are also two separate offers for students, though, which cost $22 and $45 for a limited or full library, respectively.

While getAbstract offers additional features such as multi-dimensional summary ratings and the possibility to structure your personal library with the help of tags, Blinkist’s clean and minimalist interface doesn’t exactly leave an impression of being under-developed as well. The pricing speaks clearly in favour of Blinkist, yet those with the craving for the widest possible choice of titles and media channels will definitely find the getAbstract Pro plan an interesting investment into personal and professional growth.

Blinkist vs Joosr

Another notable competitor is UKs Joosr, a mobile-first microlearning service similarly offering summaries of non-fiction books. The library contains 250+ titles, which is about an order of magnitude less than Blinkist, available for reading from an Android/iOS app or browser account.

Joosr offers a free 15-day trial which allows reading 5 book abstracts of your choice. After the expiration of the demo period you will need to purchase one of the paid plans to continue using the service. Joosr Premium ($71.88 per year) allows full access to the library, which is considerably more expensive than the comparable Blinkist Plus plan. The Prime subscription ($83.88 per year) adds the possibility to listen to audio versions of the abstracts, while the Select plan, while more expensive on a per-year basis, allows monthly billing cycles ($7.99 per month).

Taking in account the fact the smaller choice of books, the higher pricing, and the fact that Joosr’s reader as well as user interface overall feel significantly more dated, there seems to be little sense in choosing this service over Blinkist.

Blinkist vs Instaread

As is frequently the case in a specific online services niche, there’s that one competitor with a mobile-first, Apple-only offer. Here, it’s Instaread – an iPhone and iPad app with a 600-strong library of the most popular non-fiction book abstracts. Each is available in text and as an audio file, with the possibility to buy the full audiobook right within the app if you liked the shortened version.

The app offers a 7-day trial, after which you will need to choose one of the paid options – either a monthly billing plan for $8.99 per month, or the plan with a yearly billing cycle for $89.99 per year. This is just 10% more expensive than the comparable Blinkist Premium plan, yet one should bear in mind that Blinkist is available on more platforms, including an Android app and a web version; moreover, Instaread’s library is considerably smaller, which means that it’s actually practically possible to run out of titles in the entire category(ies) of your interest.

Using Blinkist Effectively

The most important thing to understand with respect to Blinkist is that it is by no means incompatible with reading full books: while it does help eliminate some reading of that type, as we’ll see below, the real power of Blinkist can be unlocked when actually combining it with reading full titles. Let’s look at some ways it can be done:

  • Pre-selecting books: there are countless books out there, and only so much time in each day; this means you will have to be rather picky with what you read if you want to maximize your reading value. Here’s where Blinkist comes in handy – by going through the blinks you can filter out some of the books that aren’t going to be worth your while for various reasons (e.g. too few new ideas, weak arguments, irrelevant or simply uninteresting to you). This can help save massive amounts of money (and time) by helping you pay only for those books which are truly worth it. See the next section of this review for some figures to support this idea.
  • Pre-scanning books: before immersing yourself into a new book, it may often be worth scanning its content to have an overall idea of what the author is trying to say. This strategy has been described in great detail in the 1940 classic by Mortimer J. Adler called “How to Read a Book”. The author argues that is makes sense to approach a new book in steps, going deeper with each iteration; the “pre-reading” phase, or inspectional reading, as Adler calls it, helps absorbing the basics of the book in the most time-efficient manner and deciding whether or not the book is worth a closer inspection. By the way, this book is also available on Blinkist :)
  • Recapping books: another situation where Blinkist can be helpful is reminding yourself the essence of a book you’ve already read a while ago. There are some titles which are so good it’s worth going back to them from time to time and re-incorporating their ideas into your worldview. Otherwise, a certain book can prove more valuable to you as time goes by and outside conditions change – and re-reading a blink of it can help you quickly refresh your memory.

One example of an effective usage strategy for Blinkist is as follows: first, compile a list of books that might be interesting for you to read (e.g. from recommendations or one of those “what famous people read” articles). After that, add the respective blinks to your personal library on Blinkist and go through them in a methodical manner (e.g. 2-3 per week). Make notes after reading each blink, detailing whether it got you interested in the book. When this is done, you’ll have a filtered list of “worth reading” titles which you can now go through in full, by e.g. buying them from Amazon or at your local physical bookstore.

Is It Worth Paying for Blinkist?

This is one of the most frequent questions faced by the new users of the service; each has to answer it for themselves according to own preferences, yet here’s a way to put the cost of the Blinkist Plus subscription into perspective: at $49.99 per year, the annual payment translates into $4.17 per month – which is roughly equivalent to 1 or 2 cups (depending on where you live) of takeaway coffee from your favourite coffeeshop chain; not a high price to pay for access to the repository of condensed knowledge of the human race.

Another way to consider Blinkist pricing is by looking from the perspective of its function of pre-selecting full books. The average price for the most popular Blinkist titles is approximately $11 on Amazon (Kindle e-book versions) – taking into account the tendency that book quality varies and not every single one feels like it was worth your time afterwards, this implies that you can expect to spend $20-$30 per worthy book on average. Blinkist can help reduce this cost several times over, at a fixed price of less than $5 per month, by helping pre-select which books to read in full.

To sum up, the annual billing cycle of the service masks the fact that Blinkist costs no more than two takeaway coffees per month, all the while also saving money by helping to pick full-size books more effectively.

Bonus: Exclusive Blinkist Coupon -30%

We are proud to offer an awesome deal in cooperation with Blinkist: an exclusive coupon code that allows saving $15 on the first year of a Blinkist Plus plan. In order to use the promo, please take the following steps:

  1. Click the button below to visit the official page of the Blinkist service (it will open in a new window automatically).
    Get 30% off Blinkist ›
  2. Scroll to the bottom of the Blinkist home page and click on the “Pricing” item in the footer menu. If you’re already using a free version of Blinkist, you’ll need to log in and click on the green “Upgrade to Premium” button in the top part of the page.
  3. On the plans page, choose the one that suits you best and click on the respective “Sign Up” button below it.
  4. Enter your details to create an account and proceed to the checkout page (in case you already have an account, this stage will be skipped).
  5. On the checkout page, locate the green “Have a discount code?” link in the right sidebar (located under the features list). Click on the link, and a new field will show, where you can input the following coupon code:
    LUCKY30
  6. Click “apply” below the field and the discount will automatically be subtracted from your purchase price. Enjoy the best repository of condensed knowledge for less!

Over to You!

Overall, Blinkist is a well-thought-through service that inspires to read more and makes it easy to do so as well. Apart from value for money, its most prominent features include a large library, a clutter-free reading interface on multiple devices, and audio abstracts that help absorb new knowledge on the go.

Still having questions about Blinkist or not sure whether it’s worth it? Already using the service and want to share your experiences? Be sure to visit the comment section below, let’s discuss!

Pour your heart out

11 comments

thanks for the detailed review! is there some way to tell the Blinkist team to add a new summary of a book that was published lately?

damn I hesitated for too long and missed the black fri discount deal is it still available??

Yesss, this is still available! Just got the premium ;)

no anymore but there will probaby be NY or Xms discounts soon

They still have lots of popular and cool titles missing from teh library

reading is not the same as understanding and definitely not the same as integrating and pplying the knowledge. Blinkist doesnt help with either of those

After testing Blinkist for two months I can say with clarity that the only plan that makes sense is the premium plan – because without the audio versions of the blinks youre limited to reading then with your eyes, which limits the range of use cases significantly

hello wgat about the other abstract services such as joosr??

thank you for the tip, Sally! We’ve updated our review and added a comparison with Joosr

I’ve been using Blikist for almost three months now and still procrastinating
I probably am truly lazy :(

thanks for the coupon it works like a charm!