How Does Blinkist Make Money? The Blinkist Business Model In A Nutshell

  • Blinkist is a German book summary subscription service founded by Holger Seim, Niklas Jansen, Sebastian Klein, and Tobias Balling in 2012. The co-founders were inspired to create the platform to help full-time workers better utilize their free time.
  • Blinkist operates under a freemium business model, with users able to access one book summary per day. For paid users who want access to the full library, there are various individual and enterprise-level subscription plans available.
  • Blinkist also collects an affiliate commission when a consumer purchases the full version of a book on Amazon.

Origin story

Blinkist is a German subscription service founded by Holger Seim, Niklas Jansen, Sebastian Klein, and Tobias Balling in 2012.

The platform summarises over 3,000 best-selling non-fiction books, with each summary taking approximately fifteen minutes to read,

The idea for Blinkist came after the co-founders joined the workforce and wanted a way to read and learn despite enjoying less free time.

They realized that most people experienced the same problem and those who did find the time to read were constantly distracted by their devices. 

Seeking to help readers make better use of their time, the co-founders started compiling the key insights from a variety of popular non-fiction books.

To increase the likelihood that even the busiest reader would remain engaged, it was important that each insight could be read within fifteen minutes. Each fifteen-minute summary they called a Blink.

In the beginning, Blinkist garnered little investor interest and was repeatedly refused funding. But Seim, Jansen, Klein, and Balling then quit their full-time jobs to work on the app full time in any case.

Once Blinkist was launched, it took three months to reach just 100 downloads. The user base experienced more rapid growth after American VC firm Insight Partners took notice of Blinkist and contributed $35 million

Growth was further enabled by the recruitment of a robust tech team, with the company securing former SoundCloud, Twitter, and Google staff.

Blinkist also hired an army of writers and experts to read the books and create Blinks that were memorable, concise, and easy to understand.

Today, Blinkist has over 20 million users with access to over 5,000 non-fiction books from the realms of philosophy, history, politics, productivity, mindfulness, personal development, corporate culture, entrepreneurship, and creativity.

Blinkist revenue generation

Blinkist operates on the freemium business model with both a free and paid offering. 

Free users receive access to one book per day that the Blinkist team selects. For unlimited access to every book hosted on the platform, there are various subscriptions available for individuals and businesses.

Blinkist Premium

Blinkist Premium gives users unlimited access to all audio and text Blinks on the website and in the app. They also receive a discount on audiobook purchases.

There are two options here:

  1. Premium Yearly ($9.99/month, or $119.99 paid annually) – note that there is a free 7-day trial here with access to the full Blinkist library. 
  2. Premium Monthly ($19.99/month) – with the monthly plan, there is no free trial and the subscription is twice the price of the yearly commitment.

Blinkist Business

Blinkist Business is a product helping businesses cultivate curiosity and innovation within their teams. There are also two subscription options available for businesses, including:

  1. Teams (5-200 people) – featuring access to Blinkist Premium, engagement resources, and an account management portal. Prices depend on the number of required users, or seats. For example, the price of 10 seats is $590 and the price of 200 seats is $7500. A middle range of option of 100 seats is $4600.
  2. Enterprise (for more than 200 people) – featuring all Teams features plus dedicated customer support, curated learning paths, customizable home screen, and learning management system (LMS) integration. Enterprise customers must book a demo to receive a quote.

Affiliate commissions

Blinkist also earns money through affiliate marketing. Once a user has completed a Blink, they are given the option to share it with others or purchase the full book on Amazon.

The company is then compensated with a commission from Amazon if a consumer makes a purchase there.

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RelatedWhat Is A B2B2C Business Model?

Related Business Model Types

Platform Business Model

A platform business model generates value by enabling interactions between people, groups, and users by leveraging network effects. Platform business models usually comprise two sides: supply and demand. Kicking off the interactions between those two sides is one of the crucial elements for a platform business model success.

Marketplace Business Model

A marketplace is a platform where buyers and sellers interact and transact. The platform acts as a marketplace that will generate revenues in fees from one or all the parties involved in the transaction. Usually, marketplaces can be classified in several ways, like those selling services vs. products or those connecting buyers and sellers at B2B, B2C, or C2C level. And those marketplaces connecting two core players, or more.

Network Effects

A network effect is a phenomenon in which as more people or users join a platform, the more the value of the service offered by the platform improves for those joining afterward.

Asymmetric Business Models

In an asymmetric business model, the organization doesn’t monetize the user directly, but it leverages the data users provide coupled with technology, thus have a key customer pay to sustain the core asset. For example, Google makes money by leveraging users’ data, combined with its algorithms sold to advertisers for visibility.

Attention Merchant Business Model

In an asymmetric business model, the organization doesn’t monetize the user directly, but it leverages the data users provide coupled with technology, thus having a key customer pay to sustain the core asset. For example, Google makes money by leveraging users’ data, combined with its algorithms sold to advertisers for visibility. This is how attention merchants make monetize their business models.

Wholesale Business Model

The wholesale model is a selling model where wholesalers sell their products in bulk to a retailer at a discounted price. The retailer then on-sells the products to consumers at a higher price. In the wholesale model, a wholesaler sells products in bulk to retail outlets for onward sale. Occasionally, the wholesaler sells direct to the consumer, with supermarket giant Costco the most obvious example.

Retail Business Model

A retail business model follows a direct-to-consumer approach, also called B2C, where the company sells directly to final customers a processed/finished product. This implies a business model that is mostly local-based, it carries higher margins, but also higher costs and distribution risks.


A B2B2C is a particular kind of business model where a company, rather than accessing the consumer market directly, it does that via another business. Yet the final consumers will recognize the brand or the service provided by the B2B2C. The company offering the service might gain direct access to consumers over time.

Crowdsourcing Business Model

The term “crowdsourcing” was first coined by Wired Magazine editor Jeff Howe in a 2006 article titled Rise of Crowdsourcing. Though the practice has existed in some form or another for centuries, it rose to prominence when eCommerce, social media, and smartphone culture began to emerge. Crowdsourcing is the act of obtaining knowledge, goods, services, or opinions from a group of people. These people submit information via social media, smartphone apps, or dedicated crowdsourcing platforms.

Open-Core Business Model

While the term has been coined by Andrew Lampitt, open-core is an evolution of open-source. Where a core part of the software/platform is offered for free, while on top of it are built premium features or add-ons, which get monetized by the corporation who developed the software/platform. An example of the GitLab open core model, where the hosted service is free and open, while the software is closed.

Open Source vs. Freemium

Open source is licensed and usually developed and maintained by a community of independent developers. While the freemium is developed in-house. Thus the freemium give the company that developed it, full control over its distribution. In an open-source model, the for-profit company has to distribute its premium version per its open-source licensing model.

Freemium Business Model

The freemium – unless the whole organization is aligned around it – is a growth strategy rather than a business model. A free service is provided to a majority of users, while a small percentage of those users convert into paying customers through the sales funnel. Free users will help spread the brand through word of mouth.

Freeterprise Business Model

A freeterprise is a combination of free and enterprise where free professional accounts are driven into the funnel through the free product. As the opportunity is identified the company assigns the free account to a salesperson within the organization (inside sales or fields sales) to convert that into a B2B/enterprise account.

Franchising Business Model

In a franchained business model (a short-term chain, long-term franchise) model, the company deliberately launched its operations by keeping tight ownership on the main assets, while those are established, thus choosing a chain model. Once operations are running and established, the company divests its ownership and opts instead for a franchising model.
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