My experience with Blinkist - the book summary service

It has been a few months since I first visited Blinkist have read. To be honest, I didn't understand the concept straight away, because I didn't know a service for "book summaries" before. With the motto "Big ideas in a nutshell", Blinkist is specially designed for people who would like to have the knowledge from books but cannot find the time to read them. Sounds strange at first, but it isn't if you don't expand the selection of books to all areas of literature.

While it can make sense to summarize guidebooks, it would be less practical for novels or manuals like "The Great Photoshop Compendium". Some books simply live on the fact that they contain a lot of details and span hundreds of pages - but not all of them. And Blinkist is designed for these books.

The Berlin startup works according to the motto "big ideas in small packages" and summarizes non-fiction books and guides in brief "blinks" that make it possible to grasp the most important key messages of the respective book within 15 minutes.

The Berlin startup works according to the motto "big ideas in small packages" and summarizes non-fiction books and guides in brief "blinks" that make it possible to grasp the most important key messages of the respective book within 15 minutes.

On the Blinkist website you can of course find a short version of the story behind the company. It is so nicely summarized that I just want to quote it at this point:

Once upon a time there were four friends. During their university time, they eagerly exchanged notes and knowledge from books - and shone in the exams with their grades. In 2012 they suddenly had all jobs and an eventful life and hardly found time to read. They knew there had to be an easy way to learn something new every day, despite their job and everyday life, and they put their heads together. And tadaa: Blinkist was born! Three years later, we flashed more than 2000 of the world's best non-fiction books and packed the core ideas from them into easy-to-understand nibbles that anyone can read in 15 minutes.

My Blinkist Premium Account

So after looking at the Blinkist concept a bit and taking a look at the selection of German books, I decided to become a member of the service for a year. For just under 80 EUR I clicked on the premium version of the Blinkist accounts (yes, paid for it myself and not sponsored by Blinkist!), Because only this one also includes the audio service, with which you can not only access the books the Blinkist app, but can also consume it as an audio book.

I'm a huge fan of podcasts and audio in all forms because I can hear them both in the car and while out walking. For me, only the most expensive Blinkist premium account was actually considered. By the way, you can find more about the prices in mine Contribution to the cost of Blinkist.

But you can also start small and get a free test account first. If you're already in the mood for Blinkist and don't want to read through to the end of the article, you can register here with a free account.

A good 50 people work at Blinkist in Berlin on "compressing" books and keeping the service running with the website and app. A special feature of the company: There is no boss and no hierarchies (Photo: Blinkist).

A good 50 people work at Blinkist in Berlin on "compressing" books and keeping the service running with the website and app. A special feature of the company: There is no boss and no hierarchies (Photo: Blinkist).

This is how the service works

The "headquarters" of the Blinkist crew is in Berlin and there are currently around 50 people working there to summarize non-fiction books in short "Blinks". A blink is a short description of an idea from the corresponding book, which is about 200 to 300 words or about 3 minutes of audio. A complete book summary consists of several flashes and a total reading time of around 15 minutes. This should enable the key messages of the corresponding book to be read or heard in a short time.

Blinkist in short: Everything important is summarized here.

Blinkist in short: Everything important is summarized here. The "here" link doesn't work, of course, as it's just a screenshot ...

When you become a member of Blinkist, you can choose from over 2000 titles made up of the world's best "nonfiction" books. Many of them are of course in English, but there are also public German books. About 80% of the books are also available as audio books.

In order to push the statistics a bit to the extreme, I checked out the current numbers at Blinkist and asked the team for some data:

  • Total books: approx. 2500
  • Books in German: approx. 650
  • German books that are available as audio versions: approx. 50%
  • New books per month: approx. 40 (of which approx. 12 are German)
  • Books available as audio books (in total): approx. 80%
  • Blinkist members: approximately 3 million

Book categories

As already mentioned, novels are rather poorly suited to be made available as "Blink". The categories of books available at Blinkist are nevertheless quite diverse:

  • Entrepreneurship & Small Business
  • Gesellschaft & Politik
  • marketing & Distribution
  • Popular science
  • Health & fitness
  • Personal development
  • Economy
  • Biography & History
  • Communication & social skills
  • Corporate Culture
  • Management & Leadership
  • Motivation & inspiration
  • Stock market & money
  • Psychology
  • Productivity & time management
  • Love & sex
  • Technology & future
  • Mindfulness & Happiness
  • Parenting

There are already a number of topics that are interesting. For me as a blogger and self-employed, for example, the categories "Entrepreneurship & Small Business" and "Productivity & Time Management" have a few titles that I will treat myself to: "We call it work" by Sascha Lobo and Holm Friebe, who report on it what new fields of activity there are through Web 2.0 and how these are changing the world of work. Sounds interesting? You have heard this work in 13 minutes ...

Or "Silicon Germany" by Christoph Keese, who reports in his book on how Germany might still manage to catch up with the digital transformation. Also "consumed" in 13 minutes. ;-)

But titles from other areas can also be an enrichment for the self-employed: "In Praise of Errors" by Jürgen Schäfer explains in 16 minutes why mistakes are important for progress and why they should not be avoided or covered up compulsively.

I'm relatively open to new topics and my reading list is already bursting at the seams. I would say that if you have a little interest in personal development, politics, the stock market, psychology or other of the above-mentioned topics, you will get a lot of food for your brain at Blinkist.

Listening to the books on the iPhone is my favorite feature of the service. It was also worth a premium account to me.

Listening to the books on the iPhone is my favorite feature of the service. It was also worth a premium account to me.

The iPad or iPhone app

The iOS app, which is available as a universal app for both the iPad and the iPhone, allows you to select and read or listen to books with your account. There is still no app for the Mac, but in principle you can use the service on the Mac via the website, as you can also use it to carry out all the functions that the app offers.

In the lower area, the Blinkist app always shows the last book and also shows the progress of each book by means of a colored background.

In the lower area, the Blinkist app always shows the last book and also shows the progress of each book by means of a colored background.

I mainly use Blinkist on my iPhone and use it to read through the books on my reading list. The app is attractively designed, easy to use and also has helpful features, such as the "Discover" area, which suggests new books and a selection of books that are compiled based on the books selected so far. I always find new literature that interests me.

A good and important feature is the synchronization of the books read and the places in the audio book that you have come to. These are saved in the cloud and are therefore also available on the website and in the iPad app. For example, if you have to interrupt an audio book and the app is closed because you haven't used it for a long time, you can still listen to where you left off the next time.

My screenshots from the iPhone app show the tidy look, which makes navigating the individual areas a pleasant thing.

My screenshots from the iPhone app show the tidy look, which makes navigating the individual areas a pleasant thing.

What the Blinkist service brings me

I am a person who likes to read guides and non-fiction, but unfortunately has far too little time for it. I even have the book "Getting things done!" standing on the shelf and didn't get it finished because I didn't have time for it. So you see what kind of person you are dealing with. ;-)

With many of these guidebooks that I have read as a real book so far, I actually find that the thing could have been presented in a significantly abbreviated form. For example, Timothy Ferriss's "The 4-Hour Week" is actually a book that, in my opinion, only has 340 pages, because otherwise it would not have been sold as a book. The statements in it are really good and one or the other story is also motivating and helpful for someone who wants to be their own boss, but after a few chapters I had the feeling that nothing new came around. Such books can be "read" perfectly with Blinkist, since only decorative accessories are lost during "compression".

The book "A Brief History of Almost Everything" by Bill Bryson is a negative example that shows why it is sometimes better to read the "real" book (screenshot: blinkist.com).

The book "A Brief History of Almost Everything" by Bill Bryson is a negative example that shows why it is sometimes better to read the "real" book (screenshot: blinkist.com).

It doesn't work with some books

What I can't imagine, however, is the synopsis of books like "A Brief History of Almost Everything" by Bill Bryson. This book was recently published by Blinkist, but I definitely won't "read" it about it. Anyone who knows Bill Bryson's books knows that the entertainment value of them is largely due to his detailed reports and his way of narrating. I think it is just as pointless to cut such books down to 15 minutes as to watch a movie at 4 times the speed so that I can see it faster.

I think the Blinkist team would have to draw harder limits here so that some books are not "broken". Personally, I don't choose books like this, but if you don't know what to do with the name "Bill Bryson", you might consume it as a Blink collection in a few minutes, even though you would have had many hours of fun with the real book.

So at Blinkist I tend to choose books that interest me on the topic, but which I am sure I would not read, either because I would not find the time for them or because the title does not appeal to me 100%. There are quite a few of these specimens. I think they sound halfway interesting, but I don't want to invest hours of "lifetime" just to get the key messages out of the book. And this is where Blinkist does this for me.

What I have flashed so far ...

So that you get an impression of what I have read so far, I am simply listing the screenshot with some of the books that I have in my "Done" list on Blinkist.

An excerpt from the books I have already read as Blinks - a colorful mixture of literature that I would certainly not have read otherwise.

An excerpt from the books I have already read as Blinks - a colorful mixture of literature that I would certainly not have read otherwise.

Almost all of them are books that I probably would not have worked through in "real". But even so, I got some interesting ideas and information from these abstracts of the books. I particularly like the option to hear the blinks as an audio version. If you often travel by bus, train or car, go for a walk or do sports and like to hear something, then with Blinkist you can "consume" many interesting books without actually reading them.

Because with a total length of 15 minutes you can't waste too much time listening to or reading a book that you don't like after all, my reading list grows more and more as I choose more freely. I choose books from all sorts of subject areas and also some English titles that sound exciting. Here is an excerpt from my current "Todo" list at Blinkist:

An excerpt from my "to read" list at Blinkist. Here, too, I clearly tend towards a wide range of topics.

An excerpt from my "to read" list at Blinkist. Here, too, I clearly tend towards a wide range of topics.

Side effect: Learn English better with Blinkist

As you may have noticed in the list above, some of the books I have read are in English. Unfortunately, I'm not that good at English that I would voluntarily get a complete book in English, but I can do a 15-minute audio book. The good thing about it is: The Blinkist speakers speak English so it's easy to keep up and learn a little more English at the same time. And if you can speak more English, you have a much larger selection of interesting books at Blinkist! A nice side effect of this service ...

The prices: Free, Plus and Premium

A question that will surely be on the tip of the tongue for many readers is the question of costs (here is the overview on the Blinkist website). The good news: There is even a free account, but this is limited to one title per day, as specified by the Blinkist team. That means you have to take what is on offer, but it gives you an insight into how the service works. And there is no time limit for the free account.

Even the Plus account is much more flexible at just under 50 euros. Here you have access to all titles and can also read your selected books offline. However, an audio version of the tracks is not included.

The difference between the Plus and Premium accounts are, in addition to the price of almost 80 euros for the premium account, three features:

  1. The audio version is available for many titles (available for approx. 80% of the titles).
  2. You can make marks in the books and link them directly to Evernote.
  3. You can send the titles directly to your Kindle.
The price model at Blinkist (as of March 01.03.2018st, 10). For companies that want to offer an entire team access to the Blinkist content, there are, for example, 549 premium accounts for XNUMX euros per year.

The Blinkist pricing model (As of March 01.03.2018st, 10). For companies that want to offer an entire team access to the Blinkist content, there are, for example, 549 premium accounts for XNUMX euros per year.

For me, the Evernote and Kindle stories are less interesting because I really only want the Blinkist books as audiobooks. That's why the premium account was definitely due for me. If you only want to read the books on your iPhone or iPad, you can easily get there with the Plus account.

My conclusion: I will stick with it!

In the few months that I have my Blinkist account, I've read through numerous books as mini-bites. I'm a big fan of podcasts and have now found a second interesting source for audio content in Blinkist. The big advantage that I get from Blinkist is the versatility of the topics that I now have and the opportunity to improve my English at the same time - certainly a "feature" that the Blinkist team did not even have on the screen.

The fact that there are around 50 new books on Blinkist every month gives me great hope that I will still find new, interesting content on the portal in a few years' time. For this reason, the annual membership is a good investment for me, which I do not book as "entertainment" but rather as "further training".

If you are interested in the service, you can find the link to the homepage here:

» continue to Blinkist.com

If you have already had experience with the Blinkist and would like to give praise or criticism, I look forward to your comment!

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11 comments

  1. Got the impression that Blinkist is very American and that the typical American management and how-to-become-more-effective-and-better-books are "read". How many German-language books are included in the 2.000 titles?

    • Sir Apfelot says:

      Hello Stefan! I wrote the question about the number of German titles to the Blinkist support a few days ago. Unfortunately no feedback yet. I will add it here in the article or in the comment when you have answered me.
      Neither the "American" book selection: I can't really confirm that. There are of course books that explain how to become more productive and effective, but they are often in demand in Germany too. I've read a few books that only talk about certain things. The sleep revolution, for example. Or titles that report on well-known personalities ... The selection is quite varied. And you can also suggest books on the website that should appear as Blink. So you can influence the selection a bit.
      Best wishes! Jens

    • Sir Apfelot says:

      Hello Stefan! I now have feedback from the Blinkist team. There are a total of 2500 books, 650 of which are in German. Around 40 new ones are added every month, 12 of which are German books. In German books there is an audio version of around 50% of the titles. I have also added this data to the article above. LG! Jens

  2. Birgit says:

    Hi Jens,
    thanks for the informative contribution! In large parts it corresponds to my experience, I now have Blinkist in the premium version for about a year and use it regularly. Regarding your question as to whether such sophisticated works as Bill Bryson's also belong in Blinkist, however, I think that I also benefit greatly from these summaries. I also use Blinkist as a pre-selection of what to buy and what to leave. And the summaries give me important reading tips and far more decision-making aids than, for example, the reviews on Amazon. I would cautiously say that this year I bought significantly fewer books that turned out to be flops when reading them. And with about 3-4 bad purchases previously eliminated, the account has already paid off for me.
    Kind regards, Birgit

    • Sir Apfelot says:

      Hello Birgit! Yes, I've heard it before that Blinkist is handy for getting a first impression of a book before buying it. I don't use it like that though ... I tend to listen to books that I wouldn't otherwise read. Just a few days ago while mowing the lawn I heard three books on genome palaeontology, the history of genetic engineering and something else like that. They were interesting in the short version, but I doubt that I would have actually understood and read the several hundred pages long. : D But everyone uses Blinkist in their own way. It is all the nicer that you have described your use here, which I can also understand very well! LG! Jens

  3. AG says:

    Hello, I want to cancel my account. Can you please tell me what exactly I have to do. After logging in, neither in the app nor on the PC, I was unable to discover any similar function of the termination. Amazingly, I found the extension of the app straight away. Thank you in advance for a quick reply.

  4. Holger says:

    "... but I don't want to invest many hours of" lifetime "just to get the key messages out of the book. And here Blinkist does exactly this for me."
    ... and that is exactly the problem with such services!
    Who now decides what the key message is? I would have BIG concerns that you would be presented with angled perspectives.
    It doesn't help that several people are working on one blinker. Anyone who has an agenda and (s) wants to emphasize a point of view also discusses something with others.

    To say that you understand a subject with a summary of a book is also something "interesting".

    • Sir Apfelot says:

      Hello Holger! Yes, of course that is a possible point of criticism. But I have to say that the Blinkist people are trying to be very neutral. I have "read" some books about Blinkist where I thought in between that one would have to criticize the statements in the book because they were too one-sided. But the people at Blinkist deliberately don't do that - they don't want to include an "opinion" from the team, they want to introduce the book. But theoretically one could of course also emphasize certain things more than others through the summary, which are less important to a Blinkist employee. However, most of the books that I have consumed so far are less "explosive" in terms of subject matter. And if you are really more interested in a topic, you might read one or two "real" books on the topic. LG! Jens

  5. Gregor says:

    Hello Jens, great contribution. Thank you for the great job. You really have uncovered all aspects of Blinkist!

    In my circle of friends, the app polarizes a lot. I think it's great for finding new, exciting topics or for getting an overview of a specific topic.

    • Jens Kleinholz says:

      Hello Gregor! Yeah, I think this is an app that you either love or find totally pointless. I don't want to miss it anymore, even if I sometimes don't use it for weeks. Now the time to mow the lawn is starting again and I need it every week. : D

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