Blinkist
Posted: 11 April 2019 09:49 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Off topic, but indirectly relating to words. I do agree with the writer.

https://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-ulin-blinkist-reading-book-summary-20190411-story.html

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Posted: 12 April 2019 05:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I think it depends on the book. Looking at the list of books that Blinkist offers, they seem to be mainly self-help and how-to books, with a few history books. I didn’t see any fiction books being offered. (There may be some; there’s no easy way to see the entire list or all the categories without signing up for the service, but the ones they feature are all in these two categories.)

In my experience, you can often sum up such books pretty well in a short article. These are, as a rule, not books you read for the literary qualities of the prose. They are read for ideas, which can often be more succinctly communicated. Is it the same as reading the whole book, no. Can it still be useful, yes.

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Posted: 12 April 2019 12:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I can’t say that share the author’s sense of umbrage towards Blinkist, but his final paragraph…

Why do we read books? Why do we give them the time they require? The answer is different for all of us, but as for me, I want to be surprised. I want to see the world reframed, to be confronted, challenged, not affirmed — the very opposite of Blinkist and its collection of useful data points.

...I had to chew on that for a bit, and concluded that I think the same way.  Very often—perhaps more that 50% of the time—I am enticed by a book review, or friend’s recommendation to read a book, only to be seriously disappointed. On the other hand, many books that I thought I would not like have become favorites.  So I do like being challenged, but I don’t necessarily set out to be challenged.

As for Blinkist, I did not bother signing up for a free trial so I cannot comment much on the service, but based on the description they offered I don’t know why I would pay for such a thing.  I can get the same short (and often misleading) information just looking through Amazon reviews free of charge.  I don’t think Blinkist will survive as a service.

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Posted: 12 April 2019 02:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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The books that Blinklist offers, at least the ones that you can see without signing up, are not ones that are going to reframe, confront, challenge, or disaffirm one’s worldview. Books like “7 Secrets of Highly Successful People” are precisely the type that can be summed up in a short article with little loss of information. That’s not to say they aren’t good books for what they do; I’m sure many of them are. But they’re utilitarian, not literary or philosophical.

I listen to a lot of podcasts, and many of them feature writers touting their books. Most of the time, I listen to the podcast if I’m interested in the subject, but then conclude I don’t need to read the book because I have already received what it has of value.

There are exceptions. I just listened to a podcast on Stein’s Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas which made me order a copy of the book. But I don’t think you’ll find Stein on Blinklist. (Although I would be curious to see how they might try to sum up Tender Buttons in a 15-minute read.)

BTW, the Spouter Inn podcast, where I heard the discussion of the Stein book can be found here. (Disclosure: both Suzanne and Chris, the podcasters, are friends.)

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