Changing the Format of the Book: Blinkist Launches iOS App

By David Knight |

They want to change the format of the book – and the Blinkist team, the first startup to be supported by the hub:raum incubator, have launched their first product. The new iOS app breaks down non-fiction books into brief summaries, known as blinks, at an average of ten per book.

These summaries are designed to offer ‘key insights’ from the books – meaning you don’t have to actually go the bother of reading the whole thing. The user gets three free blinks when they start, then pays per book or for a monthly subscription.

Currently, the app is in German and offers around 50 titles (including some in English) with an English-language version due out soon. The idea behind the blinks is to offer a service that fits more closely with modern reading habits; namely, shorter and more numerous periods of reading.

But will it really catch on? With the advent of e-books across so many platforms, will people not simply download the whole book and read it in small parts? For example, there is an excellent iOS app for the Kindle that syncs with the device itself.

But Blinkist CEO Holger Seim believes there is plenty of space for both. He told Silicon Allee: “E-books are great, but in regards to smartphones the passenger doesn’t fit very well in the vehicle. It’s like trying to transport an elephant in a four-door sedan. The small screen size diminishes the experience of the book. The smart phone won’t change to be able to handle this capacity, so we changed the format of the book.” The startup believes, he added, that people will especially use Blinkist in short spaces of time while on the go.

“Ultimately, we don’t believe that our blinks will substitute book sales, but rather bring new customers to the world of non-fiction.”

Peter Borchers, the head of the hub:raum incubator, said: “We are convinced of the idea to make mobile reading and learning easier. The determination and professional execution with which the Blinkist team pursues their plan has made a big impression on us.”

Book categories include business, politics and history, entrepreneurship, productivity and advice, health and happiness and popular science. Once you have used up your three free downloads, individual books cost €1.79 and a month’s subscription will set you back €4.49. Current titles include Barack Obama’s The Audacity of Hope and Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson.

The app is available for free in the App Store having been in closed bet for two months. Blinkist was founded in August 2012 by Tobias Balling, Niklas Jansen, Sebastian Klein and Holger Seim.