A few months ago, I had no idea what Blinkist was all about or if it was for me. I first encountered the company within the N26 mobile banking app, where Blinkist is listed as one of the cashback subscription offers along with the likes of popular app-based services Luminary, Headspace, and Tidal. Blinkist’s 10% cashback was the highest on offer, so I clicked for more detail.
I read the description — “Key insights from bestselling books you can enjoy in just 15 minutes” — and decided to explore further. A quick online search later and I learned that the Berlin-based company had raised a substantial sum of money to deliver condensed versions of non-fiction books in easily digestible chunks of text and audio, a format they call “Blinks”.
At the time — during the peak of the pandemic’s first wave in New York City — I was finding it harder to focus on reading than ever. It didn’t help that I was trying to get through Stephen King’s classic dystopian fantasy novel, “The Stand” — a 1,141-page whopper that had been on my reading list for years. The snackable, information-rich Blinks, I figured, were probably worth a try.
If you’ve read this far and want to know, “Is Blinkist worth it?”, my short answer is “yes”. It’s a free-to-download app on iOS and Android and comes with a 7-day Premium membership trial. Nevertheless, I was still highly skeptical of the Blink format. So I decided to ask my friends via an Instagram Stories poll. Out of 230 views, just one response: “Was not a fan!” When I dug deeper, my friend told me, “...it’s like Cliff Notes… but I like reading the book.” Not exactly buyer’s remorse, but far from a ringing endorsement.
Next, I turned to YouTube and Medium to see what the company and others were saying about the app and how to get the most out of it. Of all the review and tips videos I watched, it was the company’s own content that proved most convincing to me. Specifically, the video that asked “What can you learn in 15 minutes with the Blinkist app?” and showed three people using the app and then sharing what they learned.
It was time for me to sign up for my free Premium trial. I challenged myself to complete a book a day and along the way to test out both reading and listening to the Blinks. By the end of the trial period, I had doubled my target and had Blinked my way through 14 books. As someone who isn’t a big fan of audiobooks, I was surprised by how much I was enjoying the Blinkist experience.
I wanted more but wasn’t ready to dive into a yearlong membership, so I opted for the $15.99 monthly subscription. As I had done during my trial, I went in with the goal of completing a book a day. This time, however, I would keep a journal to document the key messages — usually 6 to 10 sentences per book. Doing so helped to keep my focus and to further codify my learning.
The 15–20 minutes I would carve out for Blinkist became part of a daily routine coupled with a Duolingo lesson and a mindful moment with Headspace. But as the month was coming to a close — 7 hours of content in 247 Blinks from 33 books — I decided to put a pause on Blinkist. I was regaining my ability to focus and wanted to get back to reading books cover to cover again.
To be sure, I wholeheartedly enjoyed my month with Blinkist and I am likely to re-subscribe at some point. But for now, I leave you with some of the key lessons from my Blinkist journey:
To stay ahead in the future, you’ll need to embrace continuous learning. — “Future Fit” by Andrea Clarke
If you adopt a mindset of abundance and collaboration, you’ll see that there is often enough for everyone. — “The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis” by Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac
Setting boundaries is an act of kindness. — “Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No To Take Control of Your Life” by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
You can’t save face by avoiding conflict. — “Saving Face” by Maya Hu-Chan
Don’t fixate on the finished product — embrace the process of writing! — “On Writing Well” by William Zinsser