by Tony Rushin
I love to learn, which means I love to read: biography, history, philosophy, science, health, business, self-help… it doesn’t matter. I literally (pun intended) have a stack of 30+ books in my “to read” pile and I’m typically reading, or listening to, 5+ books at any given time.
Whether you love to read or hate to read – but want to learn more, there’s a great app I discovered thanks to Mikki Williams (Vistage speaker) and Larry Hart (my Vistage Key group chair). It’s called Blinkist.
Founded in 2013, Blinkist’s mission is to make great knowledge engaging, inspiring, and accessible for the modern reader. How they do this is simple yet very effective. They focus on non-fiction books and have bright, inquisitive people read the books and organize the salient points into brief summaries they call blinks. Each book summary has about 10 blinks, each of which can be read in one to two minutes, which means you can cover the key insights from the book in about 15 minutes.
Just this past Saturday, I woke up early and read four book summaries: The Power of Habit (I had already listened to this book on Audible), The Happiness Project (my wife, Luann, had read and enjoyed this book), and two by Daniel Pink: To Sell is Human and Drive (I have watched several Daniel Pink TED talks but had not read or listened to any of his books).
Blinkist isn’t meant to take the place of reading the entire book. However, I found that the summaries are great for quickly re-reading a book or coming up-to-speed on the key points. What I missed were the stories, anecdotes, charts and images the authors use to deepen and broaden their points. No big deal: if I want more detail I can buy the books. Here are some ideas I have for using my Blinkist subscription:
- Quickly read summaries of books that are on my reading list.
- Read summaries of books my family and friends have already read – so we can talk about them.
- Read summaries of books I read years ago to refresh myself on the key concepts.
- Read, and highlight, summaries of audio books I have listened to in the past.
- Try-and-buy to see if I want to buy a book.
- Read a Blinkist book summary with colleagues at work; discuss and implement key concepts.
- Start a “Quick Read Book Club.”
Blinkist currently has 250 books and they’re adding about 40 books each month (it takes a while since they use real people to read and summarize each book). They are only on iPad, iPhone and online right now (an Android version is due out in 2014). Here are a few other features:
- 3 days free access; after that an annual subscription is $49 (Let me know if you want a 2-week trial; I would be happy to forward you the link that my Vistage Chair sent to me).
- You can move seamlessly between devices and it keeps your place.
- You can make highlights (iPhone/iPad only) and then search all of your highlights by book or by date.
I can see this app being really valuable to busy professionals, such as attorneys and doctors, and also to people who love to learn from books but can’t find enough time in their busy lives.
If you want to learn more about the philosophy behind Blinkist, here’s a Forbes article from March, 2014 in which Sebastian Klein, co-founder of Blinkist, is interviewed.
Enjoy… and happy reading!