First, let me be honest:
I don’t like Blinkist and don’t recommend it.
But that “Blinkist sucks” title is an exaggeration.
Now, with that out of the way, let’s review Blinkist a bit more critically and you will learn why Blinkist is not good for those who are serious about self-development.
What is Blinkist
Blinkist is a paid service for accessing book summaries, and it markets itself as a tool for acquiring knowledge faster, and more efficiently.
Whether or not that’s true, it will be the topic of this review.
- Blinkist Review
- Blinkist Pros
- Blinkist Cons
- Blinkist Cost
- Blinkist Alternatives
- Should You Get Blinkist?
This Blinkist review comes from the vantage point of a well-educated social scientist who’s a voracious learner.
The headphone strings you see are from noise-canceling headphones so that I can listen to audiobooks on the go.
Indeed, as you can see from my book summaries list, I read a lot.
Hence, a book summary service should be perfect, right?
Well, yes and no.
Books should add value to your life.
Adding books like players add notches under their belts won’t make you any better and won’t budge you of a single centimeter forward.
Therefore, my philosophy being of doing anything that moves you forward, I don’t buy into the braggart idea of “reading X books in X time”.
And that’s exactly one of Blinkist’ value propositions when they ask:
Ever read read four books in a day?
No I haven’t, and neither I want.
I’d rather learn from 1/4 of a book every day.
And internalize and apply that wisdom every day.
However, that being said, there are some good cases for book summaries.
Before starting, if you are more the video kind of guy, here is a quick Blinkist video review:
Here are the advantages of using Blinkist:
1. Saves Time on Poor Books
Short waste of time is better than big waste of time
Let’s be frank, not all books are worth your time.
Some might even be great books, but they don’t fit your goals, personality, or lifestyle.
And some might be great authors or great people, but they’re just putting out content to monetize their name-brand.
In these cases, a summary saves you time (and money)
2. Some Books Can Get 80% Value in 20% Space
Pareto says yes in his Blinkist review
Some books -but not all, read the cons!- can be easily summarized and you can get most of the value in a quarter of the time (and cost).
One example could be The 10X Rule.
Even with some great books, you can get 80% in 20%.
3. Some Summaries Are Good
There’s good stuff on Blinkist
I purposefully tried some of my favorite books. I picked The Paradox of Choice, which makes it in the Top 10 of my Best Self-Help Books.
And they did a rather good job (albeit the very important steps on how to go from maximer to satisficers were missing).
4. Captivating Format
It’s hip to be Blink!
It’s no mystery that one of Blinkist’s secrets to success is the format.
The marketing, the sleek interface, the quotes… The bite-sized pages that make us feel smart :).
That’s also the danger in a way: reading shouldn’t only be a pleasure for pleasure sake. It should serve your advancement.
And these are the cons based on my Blinkist review:
1. Great Books Can Lose 90% of Value
Don’t skimp on greatness!
The really good books, with lots of content and lots of wisdom are difficult to summarize. For anyone.
And I don’t think Blinkist does a good enough job with the books I tested.
I think of The Art of Seduction, which the Blink summary pretty much butchered.
2. There Are Some Bad Summaries
How far can you trust Blinkists’ employees?
I have seen a few mistakes and some bad summaries on Blinkist.
For example In the Blink Mindset The Psychology of Success, the Blinkist summary reads:
“it’s not necessary to give up a fixed mindset altogether and it’s usually enough to adopt the growth perspective in certain situation”.
That’s not something Dweck ever said and that’s not the message of the book at all.
And you SHOULD give up a fixed mindset altogether.
Do yourself a favor instead and read how to develop a growth mindset.
3. No Ranking Means You Can’t Prioritize
Which one should I pick of these thousands here?
Services like Blinkist don’t -and possibly can’t because of the agreements they sign- rank their summaries.
They try to be always positive and objective. But I don’t think that’s helpful to readers.
One because it gives an appearance of objectivity while instead every summary, by definition, is a personal work.
And two because ranking are helpful to prioritize.
That’s why I like following a few reviewers I trust.
I know they know their stuff and I can trust them on what I should and should not read.
What’s not good with the book? What could be done better?
Blinkist probably has contracts in place with authors and publishers.
And I don’t think they are allowed either personal opinions or negative opinions.
Some might like it, but it’s not my cup of tea.
I like very much enjoy reading the reviewer’s opinion. That helps me assess both the quality of the summary and, indirectly, how knowledgeable the review is.
For example, in the otherwise wonderful book The 48 Laws of Power, I put as a con that the book only sees relationships as battles to win.
I feel that’s an important point to make as seeing relationships as power struggles make you a power addict.
But that’s not something you would read on a Blinkist summary.
5. Books As Silos: Get The Trees, Lose The Forest
Does the literature and research confirm the author’s opinions?
Blinkist summaries look at books as silos.
There’s rarely mention to what other authors say and rarely they introduce contrasting theories.
But mentioning contrasting theories is important for readers to make sense of a subject.
For example, if you read my summary of How to Win Friends I say that it’s a must-read book. But I also tell you that people who are too passive should work on their assertiveness before making it all about others.
And I point the readers to other interpersonal skills books that are more effective for that such as Difficult Conversations and Eliminating Passive-Aggressiveness.
To add the most value to the readers, I try to do two things (example below):
- In blue ink I highlight my own comments
- I present contrasting theories, helping the reader make sense of a topic
Like in this example:
Blinkist Silos Failure Example
Here’s a book I recently tested on Blinkist: The China Study.
The China Study is considered the vegetarian bible. So far so good. However, it makes huge (uncorroborated) claims. Such as that meat drastically increases your chances of cancer.
The China Study has been severely criticized for being unscientific and for bending the data to fit its agenda.
Any summary not mentioning that kind of criticism is doing a disservice, in my opinion.
And Blinkist promotes The China Study as it was going to save your life.
6. Fun-Fact Approach to Learning
It feels to me like Blinkist is about “making reading fun”.
Which is OK.
But non sci-fi reading can also be a serious endeavor to gather knowledge that moves us forward.
And I find the fun-fact attitude does not help.
Here is an example:
“But did you know that” is a typical “fun fact” approach. I’m not interested in fun facts. I want facts, not fun facts.
And I want to know how they can help me move forward.
I want critical observations, deep wisdom, science and research. And I don’t always find it in Blinkist.
7. Naive Self-Help
Blinkist’s acritical stance, in practice, ends up being one of “you can learn from anything and anyone” type of naive open-mindedness.
That makes for naive self-help, and I highly recommend this article:
The cost of a Blinkist subscription is not high.
It’s $7.49 Euros a month when billed yearly -meaning a lump sum of $89.99-.
But it doesn’t mean that just because something is inexpensive you should get it.
To me whether or not Blinkist is worth it is not so much a question of price, but a question of value.
And since I see little value, I personally wouldn’t use it not even if Blinkist paid me.
If you see some value but you are money conscious, then you can consider if the vast presence of online free book summaries is enough for you.
You can start by taking a look here:
- Reading List (the largest collection of editorial free summaries & reviews)
Blinkist has more titles, but the summaries you will read will likely be for the most popular books out there. And the more popular they are, the more free resources you will find.
Here are some alternatives you might want to consider to get some quality information:
- Sumizeit: a focus on business
Sumizeit is a relatively new kid on the block, but they have been working hard and well, and quickly expanded their offering.
They focus on business summaries and have special promotions for teams, which makes it a potentially better alternative for professionals, businesses, and companies.
- Amazon Audible
Have you considered going for the whole book?
Listening to audiobooks is so much quicker and more efficient than reading. You can easily train yourself to listen to a book at 2x and you can listen to as many books as you want.
Oh, and Amazon offers a plan at a price that is comparable to Blinkist.
As a matter of fact, you can sign up for the trial, cancel right away and still get to keep 2 free audiobooks! You can claim your free audiobooks here.
Read my full Amazon Audible Review here.
- Free Book Summaries
By now there are so many people writing summaries online that you can easily find free summaries online.
You can review some of the best free online summaries sources here.
- The Power Moves
This website by now has more than 500 book summaries. Contrary to Blinkist, it also offers a critical overview and checks resources for inconsistencies.
That can be very helpful when deciding whether or not you should implement a new habit or not, or read a new book or not.
A picture is worth a thousand words.
If you agree with that statement, than ReadinGraphics might for you, since they go the extra mile to present their summaries with infographics and pictures.
I like that unique approach, and with time referred enough readers to ReadinGraphics that they gave me a special discount code for this website’s readers.
Click the button below and use the codes below the button on check out.
Store items: ThePowerMoves
Do you recommend Blinkist?
I don’t use it and I don’t plan to start using it, so neither would I recommend it to others.
Is Blinkist worth it?
For a quick overview of some books, Blinkist is a great tool that can save you time on otherwise padded and fluffy books. But frankly, you probably shouldn’t even be reading fluffy books, and if you’re interested in learning from the best books, then either get the original, or a better summary.
How does Blinkist work?
Blinkist is a book summary service providing customers with condensed versions of non-fiction books.
How much does Blinkist cost?
$89.99 a year depending on which package you choose.
Can you listen/read Blinkist offline?
Yes. Everything can be downloaded and read/listened to offline.
In my opinion, no, you shouldn’t get Blinkist.
Whether it’s good for you, though, well…
I can’t answer for you whether Blinkist is any good for you.
All I can tell you is what I am doing. And I am not using it.
I want to quip Geroge Clemenceau here when he said that “war is too important to be left to generals”.
Similarly, I say:
Knowledge is too important to be left to bad summaries
On the other hand, I must convene that many books are space fillers and will waste your time.
So for space-filling, fluffy books, even Blinkist summaries are great.
If you are money-conscious, consider if the vast resources of free summaries are enough for you.
There are a lot of free summaries online, albeit Blinkist probably still has a wider selection and delivers them in a better format.
However, -besides the best reviews resources– you can consider using Blinkist to decide which books are worth reading.
This is my point of view as of today. I might change my mind, and I’ll make sure to update this post.
If you disagree, I respect your opinion and I would be curious to hear your own experience.