Time to take a close look – my Blinkist review
If you just came from the “What is Blinkist?” page, you already know how the app works. But how good is Blinkist really?
How useful is it?
Is the user experience good?
And what about pricing?
Note: Let me get the pricing part out of the way by saying that it’s a no brainer if you factor in the exclusive Four Minute Books 20% discount you get for being an awesome fellow book nerd – you can learn all about that here.
Does it hold up against other services, who offer book summaries? After all, there are plenty of them out there.
I will try my best to answer all those questions for you, as I walk you through some of the features of the desktop app, because I don’t want to talk about the app twice.
Let’s start with the user experience.
Update 10/26/2016: Blinkist just launched version 4.0 of its app and web app, which comes with many visual changes and some new features.
Four new core features they released with this update include autoplay, which allows you to run through the audio blinks of your entire library with one click, easier new book discovery, personalized recommendations and curated reading lists from experts, authors and Blinkist staff. This is part of the update email they sent out:
Since they’ve changed the interface several times throughout 2016, I’ll skip to the current state to avoid confusing you. What you see is what the app looks like right now.
How does it feel to be a Blinkist user?
After you’ve created your account or gotten your subscription, going to Blinkist.com will always redirect you to their web app (app.blinkist.com).
You’ll land right inside your library, which looks like this, if you’ve added a few books already:
The experience is straightforward. Blinkist doesn’t encourage wasting time, and so you’ll instantly be taken to the first blink (each page of their summary is called a blink and holds one key insight), as soon as you click on a book in your library.
But how do the books even get there?
You can add books to your library in two ways:
- Browse their categories
- Search for a particular book
The “Discover” button in the top left corner will open 16 different categories, plus a “Recently Added” section for the latest blinks.
The other categories are:
- Biography & History
- Politics & Society
- Relationships & Parenting
- Personal Growth & Self-Improvement
- Money & Investments
- Productivity & Time Management
- Motivation & Inspiration
- Marketing & Sales
- Management & Leadership
- Health & Fitness
- Entrepreneurship & Small Business
- Corporate Culture
- Communication & Social Skills
This is what it looks like:
When you press on one of the categories, you are now taken to a category view with a header image. When you scroll down, you’ll see trending blinks, the most recently added ones in this category and featured audio blinks (in this order). There’s also a “See all blinks in this category” button at the bottom.
This is what it looks like:
Your second option is to press the magnifying glass in the top left corner, next to the logo, and search for a specific book title.
As you start typing the title of a book or the name of an author, results will open in a dropdown window and update in real time.
Whether you click on a book from the category view or the search bar, once you do, you’ll land on that book’s overview page, which looks like this:
Here you’ll see all the details you need. A brief synopsis of the contents of the book, a button to add the summary to your library (which turns into a “Read now” button once you’ve done so, so you can jump right in), the option to buy the book, as well as tips who these blinks are particularly well-suited for and some information about the author. Below that you’ll find a selection of similar books.
Premium users also have the option of sending the book summary to their Kindle, to read it on there later.
This section used to include an estimated reading time for the blinks, a feature that’s (sadly, if you ask me) been removed.
Once you press “Read Now”, you’ll also be taken to the first blink, just like when starting with a book from your library. The book will then also automatically be added to your library, under your “Currently Reading” section.
This is a little different than adding books from the “Browsing” view, where you can add multiple books to your library, without starting to read any.
This view used to include short text previews, which I thought were helpful and saved time, because you didn’t have to go to a book’s overview page to find out more about its content. On the plus side, not having these encourages you to explore more and just try new blinks and books without overthinking.
Okay, let’s get to the meat. When you click on a book summary inside your library, you’ll be taken to the very first blink, which is always the same and called “What’s in it for me?”.
It explains the benefits you’ll get from reading the following blinks and what you’re about to learn. You’ll also notice a fairly new feature on the bottom of the page, the audio player. If you press play, you can listen to the audio version of this first overview blink. Currently, the audio feature is not available in full on the website. To listen to the remaining blinks, you have to use the app.
The “What’s in it for me?” section will give you a good idea of whether this summary is right for you. Don’t like what you’re about to read? No problem, go back to your library and pick another summary to read.
I really like this “letting the cat out of the bag” beforehand, because it’s reassuring. If you’re still not sure, you can now also check the index of all the blinks of this particular summary.
You can spot it inside the little 3-icon menu on the left side of your browser.
The upper icon will take you back to your library, while the middle icon reveals the index of blinks.
The blinks you have already read are marked with a checkmark on the left. You can just click on any blink to jump around, or you can use the green arrows at the bottom of your screen to move from one blink to the next.
The name or headline of the blink is the key insight for that particular page, and will be further explained by the text to help you grasp the principle, concept or idea described.
Note: Sometimes the key insight is repeated at the end of the blink and bolded. A neat little reminder to help you memorize the blinks better.
The bottom item of the menu on the left lets you adjust the size of the text, should it appear too small on your screen.
Now you can simply move through the blinks one by one, using the green arrows.
You can share parts of the text by dragging your cursor over the text and marking what you want to highlight. A button will appear that lets you choose between sharing to Facebook or Twitter and highlighting.
As you move through the blinks, eventually you will reach the final summary. This bit wraps up what you just learned in one paragraph and gives you some actionable advice that you can implement right away.
Sometimes there’s also some shareable content, like quotes from the actual book. Often there is a suggestion for further reading, and a reminder to send feedback to Blinkist, if you have any.
When you’re done, hit the little green checkmark to mark this summary as read and move it to the “Finished” section of your library.
After you do, you’ll be taken back to your library.
That’s pretty much it for reading blinks, it’s as simple as that.
So what else can you do on Blinkist?
Before we go into the evaluation part, there are a few hints I wanna drop.
Remember the top left menu from the library and overview pages? There are a few more options here. Clicking “Highlights” will take you to a collection of all of your notes and marks you’ve made. You can sort them by date or by book, for each of which they’ll be displayed in a beautiful format.
By clicking on the three dots in the lower right corner, you can also share your highlights to Facebook, Twitter, or via email. You can also delete a highlight this way.
This is a great feature, as it lets you jump through a summary again, but even quicker, and helps you recollect what you learned when you read it for the first time.
Lastly, there’s the “You” icon with your profile picture on the very right side of the menu. It will open a sub-menu, which gives you several options. Most of these are standard, like settings or help & support, but one of them deserves your attention and that’s the “Invite Friends” feature.
Note: There is also a wish list feature, where you can upvote books you want to see next on Blinkist. It’s currently being updated, but will return to this menu again soon (I asked Blinkist).
@NiklasGoeke It’s under construction! Should be up again, soon 😀
— Blinkist (@blinkist) November 4, 2016
As I told you in my affiliate background story, I got around on Blinkist for quite some time for free, just by referring friends.
When you click on that point in the menu, you’re taken to a page where you have a chance to share your very own referral link.
You can either invite your friends via email, or share your link via Facebook or Twitter. You can also just copy the link and share it anywhere else, like in an email newsletter or the description of a Youtube video. In the video at the top of this page I also show you how to get your link and do this (it used to be hidden from view). Skip to the very end of the video for that.
Alright, so how’s the experience?
As a user, you can feel that Blinkist truly wants to save you some time.
The design is very minimalistic, and that’s on purpose.
Everything is concise and to the point, you’re not given many options. In fact, they’ve removed some features this year, which I think is to further serve that purpose and get you focused on one thing, and one thing only: reading.
No cluttered sidebars, no fancy buttons, no advertisements (if you’re on a paid subscription, that is).
The user interface reminds me of Medium, it’s very focused on giving you the best reading experience possible.
Navigation is easy, thanks to the minimalistic interface you don’t have many options to go wrong or click something that sends you somewhere you don’t really want to go.
Loading times are fast, both on the phone and web app, and thanks to offline reading, you don’t have to worry about needing an internet connection at all times.
Okay, but is it useful?
With over 1800+ books in their database, and growing at 40 books per month, the choice is yours.
No matter whether you’re interested in growth hacking, stoicism, economics, entrepreneurship, habits or food, there’s something here for you.
A common problem with non-fiction books is that they really only make one or two great points, but are then blow up in order to become, well, books.
Blinkist takes care of that. If you want to know what “The One Thing” by Gary Keller is about, you can buy the book, fast forward to the chapter where it’s described, and learn about it.
But what if the other ideas in the book don’t interest you? Maybe that’s the only new thing you can learn from that book.
This is where Blinkist shines, because it gives you ALL the good ideas of the book, minus the fluff.
Instead of buying “The One Thing”, you can read the blinks and see how many of them are new to you. If you learn several new things and would like to learn more about all of them, you can still get the book.
Or, you can just learn about “The One Thing” and be done with it. You can always return to it later.
What the book summaries can’t convey is the humor of the book, the tone of the author and the power of the stories told. But that’s not their point. They are a very factual analysis of the core messages of the book, nothing more, nothing less.
What about the price?
Funny or not, by reading one set of blinks you can digest all of the core ideas of an entire book in 15-20 minutes.
How much would you pay to be able to read a book a day?
Answer that question, and you have a good estimate of what Blinkist should be worth to you.
They have 2 different price points.
For $49.99 (or the same amount in €, if you’re in Europe) per year, you get Blinkist Plus, which includes access to all their books, offline reading, and the highlights functionality.
Blinkist Premium will cost you $79.99 per year and add audio books where available, plus a few integrations. For example you can then also sync your highlights to Evernote or summaries straight to your Kindle.
Basically, you get to read a book a day for less than $0.14 per day.
I haven’t been able to find a service that comes even close to being that cheap.
All other options seem to fall into two categories:
- Free summaries with affiliate links (usually done by a single person).
- Paid summaries where you pay per summary, or a high monthly fee.
For example, Deconstructing Excellence provides, free, long summaries, which also link out to relevant resources across the web. Actionable Books, on the other hand, gives you one golden nugget for each book, and 2 more gems they found. Both then act as Amazon affiliates and link to the books.
Note: Speaking of nuggets, my friend Ovi created an app where you can swipe through hundreds of quotes of some of the best business books. Think Tinder meets books. It’s called Nugget and it’s a fun way to pick up random pieces of knowledge when you have a few minutes to spare.
Then there are services like Flash Notes, where you have to pay $29/month to join. That’s 7 times as expensive as Blinkist!
Their summaries are good, I’ve read some, but their cheapest price point ($89.99/year) lets you choose only 4 summaries. You’ll get another 26 emailed to you, but can’t decide which ones.
Feel free to let me know about any other good book summary services out there, but so far, I haven’t found anything that beats Blinkist in pricing, selection and presentation.
Update 11/04/2016: I have to correct myself. I did find someone who beats Blinkist in pricing – me and my Blinkist coupon I got for you 😀 Thanks to the exclusive partnership between Four Minute Books and Blinkist, you can now get an extra 20% off, woop woop. Learn more here.
Recap: My Blinkist Review
To sum up:
The user experience on Blinkist is flawless. Loading times are fast, the minimalistic design leads you straight where you want to go and since it syncs between all your devices, you can pick up right where you left off, no matter where you last read.
Reading comes effortless, and the simple language makes the blinks easy to understand.
Considering most of us can hardly process more than a few lessons per day, Blinkist could be your only source of learning, and you’d still learn something new every day.
However, it shouldn’t. Reading coherent texts with interwoven stories in actual books will make sure your brain stays creative and doesn’t become a filing cabinet for interesting trivia.
Given that Blinkist is the cheapest option to consume book summaries, I highly recommend you try it for free for a while and then move forward with a subscription, if you like it.
Let actual books and book summaries balance each other out and soon you’ll be the smartest person in the room 🙂
That’s it for my Blinkist review. Now I suggest you do 1 of 2 things:
- Browse around this site some more to get an even better feel for Blinkist.
- If you’re ready, give it a shot. You’ve got nothing to lose (especially considering you’re getting an additional 20% off).
Whichever you choose, I’m grateful you read this review and hope Four Minute Books will help you become smarter.