Is Blinkist Worth It? An Honest and In-depth Blinkist Review

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In this fair and honest Blinkist review, I’ll share my experiences with the book summary app that promises to deliver “more knowledge in less time.” From a writer’s perspective, I’ll cover how I used Blinkist to generate more ideas for my writing projects, research popular topics, and discover new books in minutes rather than hours (for less than a dollar per day).

As a writer, I am constantly learning. Like a sponge, I am absorbing as many of my experiences as I can (and taking good notes of other human experiences as well). Because I love to learn, books are by far my favorite medium to absorb information (with YouTube at a distant second and podcasts at third, TikTok did not make the list).

However, with three kids, countless writing projects, and a trove of other grown-up responsibilities, I’m finding it increasingly difficult to make time to read (let alone finish) entire books. That is until I discovered Blinkist

At its core, Blinkist is a book summary service. It’s almost like a crossover between Spark Notes and NPR podcasts. The Blinkist app is a great way to consume all the key points of an entire book in a fraction of the time it would take to read it. With a simple user experience and silky-smooth narrators, you can “read” a whole book in the time it takes you to finish a workout or commute to the office.

Let’s dive in and unpack whether Blinkist is right for you. 

What is Blinkist?

Screen grab of Blinkist homepage

If only there were an app to summarize book summarizing apps 🤷‍♂️… Until Zuck or Bezos launches this billion-dollar idea, I guess I’ll have to take a stab.

Blinkist, a German company, takes complete books and provides the main points of the books. They take a book and boil it down into a handful (5-7) of key insights (they call them key ideas). You can either read the summaries of each Blink or listen to them as an audio version. Blinkist also offers Guides and Shortcasts. More about those in a bit.

All in all, Blinkist promises to help you:

  • Be more knowledgeable
  • Be more successful
  • Be healthier
  • Be a better parent
  • Be happier
  • Be your best self!

Geared toward “curious people who love to learn, busy people who don’t have time to read, and even people who aren’t into reading,” Blinkist currently has more than 6,500 summaries of non-fiction books and podcasts in their Blinkist Library. I should also mention they do have fiction books. Not many, 27 to be exact (with most of them falling under the speculative fiction genre).

As you can tell, Blinkist leans heavily on self-help and personal development material. However, new titles (about 40-70) are added monthly. Here is the full list of the different categories Blinkist uses during their onboarding process after signing up:

Why is Blinkist Relevant Today?

As I mentioned at the top of this article, Blinkist is relevant today because of how our busy schedules get in the way of personal growth. Not only that but every day, we are bombarded by a sludge of content vying for our attention. It’s a bit overwhelming. 

Blinkist promises to save time (✅) and, with their new Blinkist AI feature (🤖), can help you mine all 6,500 titles for book recommendations that are worth reading.

I’ve also found Blinklist to be extremely relevant on specific topics around current events. For example, I was able to read up on the complex Isreal-Palestine conflict and gain better insight and context around the issue (from both sides of the struggle). Granted, a quick summary of half a dozen books didn’t make me an expert. However, by digesting the big ideas around today’s current events, especially contentious ones, I feel better equipped to process the news and make informed decisions rather than ignorant ones. 

Finally, things in audio format are enjoyable and easier to consume while performing other tasks such as working out, doing the dishes, or driving to work. With the little time we all have, it’s no surprise that audio consumption is rising.

How Much Does Blinkist Cost? 

The cost of Blinkist depends on whether you choose to sign up for the monthly subscription ($15.99/month) or the annual subscription ($99/year).

But there are slight differences for each subscription fee. Let’s break it down.

Overview of Pricing Structure

Good news, no matter what plan you choose, you will gain unlimited access to all of Blinkist’s content.

If you choose to go with the annual premium subscription, you will be charged $99 after your seven-day free trial. You will then be billed the following year for the same amount and so forth until you decide to cancel your subscription. At $99 per year, you average about $8.34 per month (a savings of nearly 50%).

Blinkist premium yearly plan

The monthly premium subscription is a flat $15.99 billed, you guessed it, monthly. At this rate, you’ll pay $191.88 per year. To save you the math, if you plan on being a premium Blinkist member for longer than 6 months, you might as well sign up for the yearly plan.

Blinkist premium monthly plan

Free Trial vs Premium Plan

I want to clarify so there is no confusion: The free version of Blinkist is only available for seven days. After those seven days, you are billed for the yearly Blinkist Premium subscription. 

There is no standalone free plan. Only a free trial when you sign up for the annual plan.

The monthly paid subscription gets you access to the same unlimited book summaries but without the free trial. 

Can I Share a Subscription With Family Members?

Absolutely! As long as you are a premium Blinkist member, you can invite one other person to your Premium Plan at no additional cost to you or the person invited.

Learn how to gift a subscription here.

User Experience: An Honest Review of Blinkist 

Okay, let’s get into the nitty-gritty. What is it actually like using Blinkist (as a mobile app and in a web browser)? Overall, Blinkist offers an intuitive design that’s minimalistic and allows readers to navigate the various nonfiction books in their library quickly. The app quality is superb and hasn’t been buggy in my experience. The first thing I noticed was how simple the onboarding process is and how easy it was to sift through their most popular books to find ones relevant to me.

And yes, you don’t have to take my word for it. Blinkist offers a free seven-day trial that grants you unlimited access to all of Blinkist’s book titles. So you can test it out and have a general idea if Blinkist is right for you.

The Reading Experience on Blinkist

There are two ways (well, technically three) to “read” books on Blinkist. 

The first is to actually read the Blinks (the main points of a book). Here’s what the reading experience looks like in the app compared to the web browser: 

Blinkist app
App version
Blinkist web browser
Web browser

It’s pretty simple and straightforward. The second way to read is to simply listen to the Blink. To do this on the mobile application, all you need to do is select “🎧 Play Blinks” on the book’s main page or click on the play button (▶️) at the top of the reading area. Here’s what the listening experience looks like on mobile:

Blinkist audiobook

The web browser is a little bit simpler with an audio control bar at the bottom of each page. (As seen in the screen grab above.)

The third way to read is to read and listen at the same time. Now, one feature I wish Blinkist incorporated into their service is some kind of focused reader. I’m picturing something that calls attention to the current sentence being read. Kind of like when you do karaoke and the prompter guides you through the lyrics. Just a thought in case Blinkist is listening.

Book Discovery (For You vs. Explore vs. Blinkist AI)

Just like every other content delivery service, Blinkist offers a few ways to navigate their trove of book summaries to find titles you actually want to read.

Currently, there are three ways to find new book summaries: the For You tab, the Explore tab, and the new Blinkist AI tool. 

🏠 For You

This is the home of book discovery. Here you will find specifically tailored lists of recommendations based on your interests and past books you’ve already read. Yes, this means having yet another Algorithm tell you what content to consume, but with over 6,500 summaries of books on Blinkist, sometimes an avid reader wants to read and not scroll.

On the For You page, just below the list of current books you are reading, Blinkist has a “Selected just for you” section. 

Blinkist selection

I’m not sure what criteria Blinkist uses to make their suggestions. In this case, I had barely listened to a history book on Rome and finished reading two books on the history of Palestine. Blinkist then determined a book about the first twelve emperors of Rome would satiate my curiosity.

After this one-off suggestion comes a list of recommended Guides, which are almost like a mini online course taught by experts with a mashup of readings from various books.

Finally, there is a “Recommended for you” section (self-explanatory) and a “Collections for you” section, which are just that, a collection of books on various categories. 

🔍 Explore

The Explore page is like the For You page but with a bit more agency on the reader’s part. Here, you can navigate between Trending books, recently added books, the latest Guides, and the latest Collections. Or you can filter any of the various twenty-seven categories and find a specific topic to read about.

Blinkist Trending books
Blinkist Guides

✨ Blinkist AI

Because everyone is riding the artificial intelligence train, Blinkist has found a way to incorporate AI into their subscription service. This feature is still new, so there are a few kinks to work out. It is so new, in fact, that when I clicked on the “Learn more” link, the Blinkist AI FAQ page was half-finished:

Blinkist AI

Granted, I’m easing up on my criticism of AI (I’m against AI content creation but all for AI research assistance) and found this feature to be somewhat helpful. When you first open up the page, you’re given the following prompt:

Blinkist AI chat

You can then ask it simple question about what books you are looking to read. I’m interested in creative writing, so here’s what the robot recommended:

Blinkist AI recommendations

Not too shabby.

Highlight and Note-Taking Features

As I mentioned previously, Blinkist is almost intentionally built with limited features to save readers even more time while using the app. Like a Kindle, Blinkist does offer the ability to highlight passages of text and collect your highlights in the Highlight tab.

The reader then can go back and review their highlights and copy them to another app or word processor or share them on Twitter (I refuse to call it X) or Facebook (assuming you have a Facebook account, I do not).

Blinkist does not, however, have the ability to take notes within the app or web browser (like you can with MasterClass, for example). This actually makes sense because I’m typically listening to Blinks while doing something else (dishes, working out, folding laundry, etc.). Plus, I’m picky about my note-taking setup. (The curse of being a writer.) 

I should note that highlighting text on the web browser is much simpler than in the app. In the web browser, you simply use your cursor to highlight a bit of text and a prompt pops up with an option to save the highlight or share to Twitter or Facebook.

In the app (either iOS or Android), you must firmly tap on a word to begin your highlight and then scroll to the right of the popup prompt to find the “Highlight” option. I found this to be a bit confusing at first. Luckily, Blinkist has a helpful support page to answer such questions.

Format and Time-Saving Aspect of Blinkist

The ability to save hours of reading time by listening to text summaries instead of the full version of nonfiction titles is Blinkist’s unique selling proposition. But what does this format and time-saving aspect look like in practice. Let’s use one of my favorite books as an example, Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari.

For context, the unabridged book is 464 pages long. If you were to listen to the audiobook on Audible, it would take you 15 hours and 18 minutes. The Blink version of Sapiens, on the other hand, takes only 28 minutes to consume. That’s a savings of 97%!

Although I highly recommend reading Sapiens, I know that it is quite a large undertaking. What Blinkist can do is take the four sections of the book (across 20 chapters) and distill them into 11 Key Ideas that encapsulate the spirit of the book.

Do I think the Blink version of Sapiens is a good substitution for reading the entire book? No, of course not. However, if you are a busy person but still keenly into self-improvement, distilling a 464-page book into a 28-minute audiobook summary is a worthwhile offer. 

To me, as a writer who researches a lot of material, Blinkist offers the ability to quickly filter through books without having to dedicate hours of my time to a single book. In other words, I’m able to decide for myself: Is this book worth my time reading in its entirety?

That, for me, is a huge time-saver.

Another time-saving feature is the ability to go back and listen to books on Blinkist that I’ve already read. It helps to refresh what I’ve already forgotten.

Pros and Cons of Using Blinkist

If a Pros and Cons list is good for Leslie Knope, it is good for me. Let’s look at some of the advantages and limitations of Blinkist in more detail.

Advantages of Blinkist

  • Ultra time-saving functionality (read books in about 30 minutes compared to multiple hours)
  • Easy onboarding to get you up and running
  • Book discovery is intuitive and helpful
  • No risk 7-day free trial (they’ll even email you two days before your trial is set to expire)
  • Over 6,500 books in the Blinkist catalog with 40-70 more added monthly
  • A good collection of self-help books and business books 

Inherent Limitations of Blinkist

  • Not a free service
  • Book summaries are no substitution for the real thing
  • Only a handful of fiction books in the Blinkist catalog
  • No “follow along” feature while reading and listening
  • Blinkist catalog is geared more toward self-help and other various genres 

FAQ

What are some Blinkist Alternatives?

Let’s take a look at Blinkist’s closest competitors and see what differentiates them.

  • Blinkist vs. Audible: Audible provides no book summaries but is instead a service that provides entire audiobooks with an extensive collection. 
  • Blinkist vs. Summary.com: Summary.com offers a much smaller collection of book summaries (1,300 at the time of writing) at a much higher cost but also includes videos and webinars with authors.
  • Blinkist vs. Instaread: Instaread is very similar to Blinkist in both format and cost; the main difference comes from the quality of books in the Instaread library.
  • Blinkist vs. GetAbstract: GetAbstract bills itself as more than a book summary service and more of a knowledge summary service with over 25,000 articles, reports, and book summaries; the cost is obviously more. 

Is Blinkist worth it?

Yes, Blinkist is worth it if you are an avid reader keen on self-development, as Blinkist offers a wide range of nonfiction titles from which to choose. 

As a writer, Blinkist is worth the $99 per year because of all the time it saves me with researching various topics. As a life-long learner, Blinkist is a fun and enjoyable way to learn. As a social being, I finally have something to talk about at parties.

Does Blinkist offer refunds?

Yes, if you change your mind about Blinkist in the first 14 days, you can email support@blinkist.com to request a refund. After 14 days, Blinkist does not issue refunds. However, it is easy to cancel your subscription before your next billing cycle.

What are the best books for writers on Blinkist?

Because this website is dedicated to helping writers hone their craft, here are the best books for writers on Blinkist:

  •  Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott
  •  Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t, Steven Pressfield
  •  Reading Like a Writer, Francine Prose
  •  Wired for Story, Lisa Cron
  •  On Writing Well, William Zinsser
  •  The Science of Storytelling, Will Storr
  •  Creativity, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
  •  The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron
  •  Steal Like an Artist, Austin Kleon
  •  The War of Art, Steven Pressfield

Conclusion: Our Final Verdict of Blinkist

If you decided to skip the entire review and just read the final verdict, I don’t blame you. This is, after all, a hefty summary of a book summarizing service. If that was your inclination, then Blinkist is definitely for you.

My final verdict of Blinkist is this: As an intuitive and time-saving tool, Blinkist is ideal for anyone who loves to learn but is crunched for time (or is tired of podcasts being their default audio at the gym). At $99 per year, Blinkist doesn’t break the bank and pays for itself for all the time it saves you.