[App Fridays] Finish a whole book in 15 minutes with this speed-reading app for bestsellers
Short-form content is the new cool because we have no time to stand and stare. Everything from news to entertainment is being condensed into “bite-sized” or “snacky” offerings and laid out for fast consumption.
Blinkist does just that.
This micro-reading or ‘speed-reading’ app presents key insights from the world’s top non-fiction books into effective text and audio packs for users to read or listen to in just 15 minutes. As the app’s tagline goes, it offers “big ideas in small packages”.
Experts distil “meaningful, actionable insights” from over 3,000 bestsellers across 28 categories, including entrepreneurship, leadership, history, psychology, self-motivation, economics, education, and more. The app adds 30 new titles each month.
Blinkist claims that 11 million people are using its platform on Android, iOS, and desktop. As most reading apps go, users can highlight text, integrate titles with their Kindle app or device, get personalised reading lists, and even book recommendations from eminent individuals like Bill Gates, Arianna Huffington, and Michelle Obama.
The app also lets you integrate Evernote and sync notes seamlessly across devices. There is an offline reading mode too.
Blinkist has recorded over a million downloads on Google Play Store and is rated 4.4 out of 5. It runs on a freemium model with some titles behind a paywall. You can make in-app purchases or opt for a monthly subscription for Rs 999. The annual subscription is priced at Rs 5,999 and comes with a seven-day free trial.
Let’s explore the app now.
Log in with your Gmail or Facebook account.
You land on the homepage which has four broad sections: Free Daily, For You, Trending, and New. Swipe horizontally across each section to access the titles.
Click on a title to read or listen. Every title comes with a short excerpt on what it is about, who it is for, and an author bio. You can bookmark titles to add to the Library.
Inside each title, the content is spread across “blinks” (short summaries). Swipe right to read. On average, every book is condensed into 12-15 blinks.
Like on most reading apps, you can highlight text and adjust the font size.
To unlock new and trending titles, you have to upgrade to a premium plan.
Some popular titles include The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, How To Win Friends & Influence People, Ikigai, The Joy of Work, Keto Answers, and more.
You can browse through the categories on the Explore tab, and also use the Search bar to look for a specific title.
If a certain field of study interests you, category-wise selections are the best way to discover titles.
The Explore tab also contains curated lists such as The New York Times Bestsellers, Amazon Charts: Best Books of the Month, Bill Gates’ Favourite Reads, and so on.
On the Library tab, you can sort your saved titles, favourites, and highlights by date or alphabetically.
Finally, on Settings, you can enable push notifications, restore purchases (when you switch to another device), sync with Evernote, download audio, and more.
Verdict: Effective for premium readers
Blinkist is not for the average reader. Its content is sophisticated, entirely focussed on non-fiction, and is likely to attract business leaders, entrepreneurs, motivational speakers, academics, post-grad students, and the ilk.
The app spurs purposeful reading as opposed to casual browsing.
If your bookshelf is overflowing with the season’s must-reads, but you have no time to spare, Blinkist is your go-to place. Even though the app condenses large books into short summaries, the quality is unhindered. There is no dumbing down of content.
The audio clips are well-produced too and make for a podcast-like hearing experience. The app even allows you to download the titles on your device.
One could argue that its pricing is a bit steep, with free access limited to just one title daily. But, Blinkist never set out to be the common man’s app. Yet, many non-paid users are benefiting from it.
One of them summed it up well, “I didn’t get a subscription, but I never miss a single daily free book. With English being my third language, Blinkist has helped me a lot with my listening, pronunciation, vocabulary and even with my grammar.”
Time to tick a few titles off your reading list then?
(Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta)