Blinkist Daily – using scarcity to incentivize your behaviour

I’m a big fan of Blinkist, which is a subscription service that provides really well-written summaries of popular non-fiction books. These aren’t the SparkNotes you remember from your high school days—each summary is split into thematic bites, and the information is presented in a form that is already partially synthesized.

Each day Blinkist offers free access to one of their new summaries through Blinkist Daily. I find that the curation of books they use for Blinkist Daily is very high-quality, and I can usually find at least 2 summaries per week that I am interested in. It’s a similar model to Creative Live, where the initial live screening/viewing is free, but you can pay for access to the catalog of old content.

So I found myself reading 2-3 blinks per week through Blinkist Daily. Eventually I picked up an annual subscription to the core Blinkist service, which lets you push summaries to your kindle.

What is interesting is that I have found myself using the service less now that I am paying for it than when I was mooching off the free 24-hour summaries from Blinkist Daily. In some perverse way, having unlimited access to their entire library of information at my fingertips reduces my usage of the service. I don’t know if this is necessarily something wrong with the core product as much as it is something brilliant about Blinkist Daily. Curating a single summary per day and offering it for a fixed period of time simultaneously reduces the decision fatigue of choosing what to learn, and also introduces an element of scarcity in the form of a hard deadline at which point the summary disappears forever.