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? 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 the features of the desktop app. For the mobile app, see my review here.
That said, let’s start with the user experience.
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 current version is 4.7, which, since the rebrand at version 4.0, comes in the above design and style. The experience is straightforward. Blinkist doesn’t encourage wasting time, 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 18 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
- Technology & the Future
- Mindfulness & Happiness
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 makes it easy to explore more faster 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, it will take you 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 bar at the bottom of the page, the audio player for web. If you press play, you can listen to the audio version of this first overview blink. You will then automatically hear the next one, and so on, until the summary’s finished. This used to be available only in the app, but now it’s on web too, which is great.
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. 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. 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 land right back in your library. Reading blinks is as simple as that.
What are the main features of Blinkist?
With the launch of version 4.0 back in 2016, Blinkist also introduced four new core features:
- Autoplay. With one tap inside the app, you can have your entire library of blinks be played to you, one after another.
- Discover. Blinkist changed their algorithm, to make sure you discover books in the order you’ll most likely want to read them, regardless which category you choose.
- Personalized book recommendations. Your reading history is taken into account to suggest specific titles to you.
- Curated reading lists. Blinkist frequently interviews authors, experts, and their own staff, to generate lists of their favorite books around certain topics, which give a great overview of the most relevant works in any given field.
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 show up 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 on the very right side of the menu, in the top right corner of the page. It will open a sub-menu, which gives you several options. Most of these are standard, like settings, log out, help & support, or a place to buy gift cards. Two of them, however, deserve your attention.
The first one is “Wishlist.” If you click on it, you’ll see a search bar, along with a list of books with a number of upvotes next to them.
You can search for titles and it will show you if they are on Blinkist already. If not, you can hit the upvote button on the left to let them know you want them to summarize it. It’s also a great way to find out which books are likely to pop up on Blinkist very soon.
The second feature that’s interesting here is “Invite Friends.” 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 copy this link to send it to your friends via email, WhatsApp, iMessage, or any other means, or share it directly through Facebook or Twitter. If you create content, like me, you could also copy it to include in your articles, Youtube video descriptions, or Podcast show notes.
Recap: User Experience on Blinkist
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 from previous versions, 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 need an internet connection at all times.
How useful is Blinkist?
With over 2,500+ books in their database, and growing at 40 books per month, the choice is yours. No matter whether you want to learn about growth hacking, stoicism, economics, entrepreneurship, habits, or food, you will find the right book.
A common problem with non-fiction books is that they really only make one or two great points, but then the authors blow them up in order to turn them into, 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 a book like 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 a copy. Or, you can just learn a few things 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. For those, you’ll have to buy the real thing. But that’s not their point. The purpose of a set of blinks is to give you a factual analysis of the core message of the book. Nothing more, nothing less. This way, Blinkist is both a complement and supplement to books.
How much does a Blinkist subscription cost?
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.
That said, they offer their Premium subscription with both monthly and annual options. For $12.99 (or the same amount in €, if you’re in Europe) per month, you get unlimited access to their over 2,500 titles, including audio versions, offline reading and highlighting, as well as the ability to sync your highlights to Evernote or send summaries straight to your Kindle. That’s less than $0.43 per day. You will also get 20% off your first month.
However, if you decide to go with their annual plan you get a whopping 50% off, which means you’ll end up paying only $6.67 (or €) per month. That’s less than $0.22 per day. Plus, you’ll still get another 20% discount on your first month.
I haven’t been able to find a service that comes even close to offering that much at such a low price. Except I did. Me! Okay, not really, but I did partner up with Blinkist to provide you an additional 20% off, which moves the price down to just $5.34 (or €) per month.
How does Blinkist compare to other book summary services?
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. Other free services like Spark Notes or CliffNotes are more about text books and classic literature, to help you study for school.
Then, there are services like Flash Notes, where you have to pay $29/month to join. That’s 7 times as expensive as Blinkist! Business Book Summaries is even more expensive and will set you back around $10 per summary.
The only service I found with similar pricing was getAbstract. Their summaries are good and, with over 18,000 text summaries, they have the biggest selection of any book summary service out there. However, at a base price of 99 € per year, it’s also almost 70% more expensive than Blinkist, not factoring in any discounts.
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, presentation, and features. Blinkist is the #1 paid book summary service out there, period.
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 by far, I highly recommend you sign up. 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). You can also just take the free trial and make up your mind about the paid service then.
Whichever you choose, I’m grateful you read this review and hope Four Minute Books will help you become smarter.