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Blinkist, the Berlin-based startup that distills key insights from non-fiction books into nugget-sized summaries, has today launched its app globally. It is now available on iOS and the web.

“With Blinkist, we want to free the knowledge that is hidden in so many books,” said Blinkist CEO and cofounder Holger Seim. Access to Blinkist’s library of bite-sized overviews — which includes Noam Chomsky’s Rogue States and Christopher Hitchen’s God Is Not Great — is free for the first month. After that, users have to pay $4.99 per month.

The company was founded by Heim, Niklas Jansen, Sebastian Klein, and Tobias Balling in 2012. A statement by Blinkist explains that summaries are not generated by algorithms, instead “every book is hand-picked and written by experts — pure human brainpower with a passion for explaining complex matters with simple and beautiful language”.

Naturally, this leads to a number of questions: Are users shelling out money to essentially read someone else’s summarised interpretation of the book? Who are these writers and why should we trust their ability to read a book properly?

While we can (sort of) understand Blinkist’s goal of helping busy people consume information efficiently, do authors and publishers share a similar sentiment?

“They are cautious, but in general open-minded about the idea. We closed the first contracts with two large German publishers, but unfortunately due to legal restrictions we can’t talk about the details just yet. At the same time we are talking to a few other publishers,” responded Seim.

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This story originally appeared on VentureVillage. Copyright 2013

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