Blinkist emerges out of closed beta, readies English version

Nina Fowler 2013-01-17 7

Blinkist, the free mobile app that summarises non-fiction works into bite-sized “blinks”, is out of closed beta and available for download for iOS.

The team behind it – Tobias Balling, Niklas Jansen, Sebastian Klein and Holger Seim – are the first startup to be supported by Deutsche Telekom’s new incubator in Berlin, hub:raum (there’s a separate but related accelerator programme).

“Most of us stumble onto great non-fiction books all the time. But unfortunately we often do not have time to read all of them. Instead, they pile up in our bookshelf. With Blinkist and its new format we want to make their ideas more easily accessible,” Seim explained.

Every new user can select three books in blinks – key facts and ideas, condensed into usually about 10 summaries that can be read in a few minutes each – for free. Single additional books in blinks cost €1.79. A monthly subscription gives unlimited access for a starting price of €4.49.

So far, the app is only available in German and offers blinks for 50 books – 15 in English and 35 in German, including such titles as Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer and Eric Ries’ Lean Startup. The English-language version of the app will be coming in the next month or so, once more English content is available, Seim said.

Speaking about the idea tends to get a mixed reaction. Some people love it – what better alternative to Angry Birds than reflecting on small bits of wisdom? Others experience it as a crime against reading.

“We are really avid readers. We love non-fiction books and we don’t want to replace the book,” Seim countered. “It’s just that a lot of people don’t buy books and don’t start reading them at all… If you like the blinks, you get curious and you want more.”

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