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Blinkist is a no-filler twist on audiobooks
Blink and you won't miss much.
The size of the library is a little small, the price is higher than I'd like and the specific nature of the app's audio-based offering isn't going to satisfy everyone. That said, Blinkist is a time-saving twist on the paid podcasts formula that does a decent job of delivering what it promises.
Blinkist is the Audible alternative for the time-poor.
It's not competing on price, the size of its content library or big celebrity-laced advertising campaigns. So far as subscription services go, it feels like an exception to all the usual rules.
Instead of appealing to those who want more for their dollar, Blinkist bets on those who are drawn to the idea of saving valuable time. If audiobooks are a way for those who can't fit regular reading into their lives, this is an alternative for those who can't find the focus for traditional audiobooks.
Blinkist promises to help you learn 90% of what a given book has to teach you something like 10% of the time. It won't be able to give you everything, but it might be able to give you the gist.
How much does Blinkist cost in Australia?
With a monthly plan priced at $19.99 per month and an annual one that weighs in at $120 per month, Blinkist comes out more expensive than most other audiobook subscription services for the former but less so for the latter.
Of course, that's before you factor in the fact that you're getting access to podcast-like Blinks rather than full-blown audiobooks. What's on offer here is in some ways a different product from what most audio-based subscription services get you. Still, it might work just as well depending on who you are and what you're looking to get out of your next listen.
Number of titles
|400,000+||Starts at $16.45||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||2-month free trial|
|5500+||Starts at $19.99||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||7-day free trial|
|300,000+||Starts at $13.99||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||30 day free trial|
|300,000+||Starts at $16.45||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||30 day free trial|
Blinkist plans and features
It might be a little derivative to describe Blinkist as something like Quibi meets SparkNotes, but it's not that far off either.
Regardless of whether you sign on for Blinkist via either a monthly or annual plan (you have to sign up for the latter in order to take advantage of a 7-day free trial), you'll get access to the knowledge contained in thousands of audiobooks. There's no fussing around with credits as you do with Audiobooks.com, you just get access to everything the service has to offer.
The catch here is that while Blinkist does also sell traditional audiobooks, that's not what your subscription fee gets you. Instead, what's here boils down to a playlist of episodic summaries called Blinks.
Most Blinks tend to be around 5 minutes long. Each course of Blinks contains and explains the "big ideas" of a given text. Some Blinks are shorter, some are longer. For example, Hugh Eakin's Picasso's War is broken out into 7 Blinks that run for a total of 20 minutes.
To the credit of those involved with making them, all the Blinks I've listened to to date have sounded pretty well produced. Still, there's definitely some hand-wringing to be done regarding how much of that information is accurate or sinking to the same degree as a physical text might.
As someone who reads a lot of non-fiction, there's a definite allure to the idea of getting the gist via Blinkist and not having to commit the time it might take to chew through otherwise. It's very easy to like the idea of ticking that mentally-taxing non-fiction read off your list in the same amount of time it might take you to shop for groceries.
If you're after the full experience of reading Karl Marx's Capitol, there's nothing stopping you from tracking down your own copy. However, if the ordeal of reading through big texts like that is a little overwhelming then Blinkist might be a good way to grok a given text in a much shorter time frame.
For some, this shortcut might not sit well. Personally, I found myself liking what Blinkist had to offer a lot more after I started thinking of them less as a substitute for actually reading a given book and more like an alternative for books that I was curious about but struggled to justify the time commitment involved with reading.
It's a credit to Blinkist that I can now feel like I probably don't need to pick up a copy of Nissim Nicholas Taleb's Black Swan. At the time, it does never quite stop feeling like I cheated my way towards that feeling.
Blinkist app and library of content
In any case, the Blinkist book list isn't hugely long. All told, the library here weighs in at around 5,500 titles. There's some variety, but nothing as deep or diverse as the libraries found with services like Audible.
What's here feels dominated enough by the self-help genre that I had to dig a little to find some interesting tech reads like Chaos Monkeys by Antonio Garcia Martinez. Granted, the topics that Blinkist covers better than others tend to be reflective of the strengths of the format.
It's slightly easier to wrangle the thesis of Tim Wu's The Master Switch into a series of podcast-sized bites than it is Leo Tolstoy's War & Peace. That said, one key difference between consuming something like Nassim Nicholas Taleb's Antifragile via Blinks and via a physical or digital copy of the book is that the latter comes with a lot more footnotes.
The formula here is designed to make big and complex ideas easier to digest, but it's hard not to worry about some of the detail and nuance being lost in translation. It's alarmingly easy to imagine misinformation finding its way into the mix.
There's also a case to be made that the carbs in a given text are an important part of the meal. Sticking with that nutritional metaphor, Blinkists' stripped-down take on audiobooks is all protein and not much else. They're rarely satisfying or enriching on their own, even if they do give you what you need to grow those mental muscles.
Perhaps part of the reason why these more abstract concerns drift to the forefront of my mind is that the user experience for the Blinkist app itself is mostly solid. All the usual conveniences are here, from offline playback, faster and slower playback speeds, text summaries, highlights and more. The software experience side of Blinkist is pleasant and smooth enough to use that I wanted to use it more as I spent time with it.
There's also a unique social hook in the form of Shared Spaces. Blinkists' other nifty inclusion to the audio subscription formula allows you to share Blinks with friends and family members who aren't paying for the service. If you're looking to split the cost of a membership with a friend, this might make sense as well. I liked this enough that I found myself wishing that other audiobook platforms offered a similar "Share with a Friend" style feature.
Blinkist isn't the only listen and learn app out there. Headway is another option. If you're after a half-decent Blinkist alternative, it might be your best bet. It's a few dollars cheaper, but the library is significantly smaller and more narrow in its focus.
Is Blinkist worth the money?
Whether Blinkist's approach to fast and easy audio learning sits well with you will a go long way towards winning you over on the subscription cost being worth it. $20 a month is a lot to pay for access to what is essentially a library of premium podcasts, so you do need to be pretty invested in what those podcasts are about.
I think it's fair to say that Blinkist is not the same as actually reading a book or even listening to an audiobook. However, I also think it's fair to say that not everyone approaches every book with that appetite for engagement. Sometimes, you do just want the gist.
Blinkist is a decent option if you want to learn a little bit about a lot of different things, but it's not likely to satisfy those with deeper audiobook desires.