Lost when it comes to Jeffrey Epstein news? This app will help you
Are you overwhelmed by the amount of news surrounding the Jeffrey Epstein case? On Oct. 22nd, a court unsealed the deposition of Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein’s alleged sex-trafficking assistant, releasing lots of information to the public. Now there’s an app to help condense the information into a quick, easily readable format.
Blinkist is a book-summarizing subscription service to assist readers who don’t have the time or attention span to read through five hundred pages or more. Here’s more information on Blinkist and how it helps subscribers sift through information faster.
What is Blinkist?
Blinkist allows subscribers to read through nonfiction titles condensed into fifteen-minute audio bits Blinkist calls “key insights”. Recent top downloads on the service include Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff, Political Order and Political Decay by Francis Fukuyama, and Becoming, Michelle Obama’s memoir.
Blinkist’s service eliminates the tedious feeling brought on by reading. According to The New Yorker, the app is basically “SparkNotes for high-functioning grownups.”
One user on Blinkist shared, “By playing Blinkist books at 2x normal speed I can squeeze in a book while standing in line, riding in an Uber or as a bedtime story. I just want the information, not to be the author, or be forced to see through his or her eyes.”
Breaking down Maxwell’s trial
Maxwell’s trial is not the first time Blinkist has broken down a major trial or influential study. Other recent projects on the service include two books about the Harvey Weinstein trial, The Education of Brett Kavanaugh by Robin Pogrebin & Kate Kelly, and She Comes First, an informative book on the female orgasm by Dr. Ian Kerner.
According to The New Yorker, Blinkist considered covering “the Mueller report and decided that the task was too difficult.” However, the service still decided to tackle the Maxwell trial, despite the challenging topic.
“Our star writer found [the Maxwell transcript] pretty tough,” Thomas Anderson, Blinkist’s head of English content, told The New Yorker. “Compared with a nonfiction book, there isn’t too much concrete information in there.”
While the case has plenty of intriguing details, Anderson reported that the key insights are “a bit bland”. For example, the Blinkist summary makes no mention of a basket of sex toys, a detail from the deposition other news sources included.
An excerpt from the Blinkist summation reads, “The first key insight is: Ghislaine Maxwell claims Virginia Giuffre is a liar. ‘Lies,’ ‘liar,’ ‘lied,’ ‘lying’ – the words appear again and again throughout the deposition. During the afternoon session, however, allegations of Virginia’s mendacity appear in a dense cluster – thirty-four times in a mere thirteen pages.”
Is Blinkist effective?
The New Yorker reported that Jonath Arac, the former chair of Columbia’s English department, said, “This is a new version of an old way of reading . . . We choose to have someone else do it for us because we assume this is an experience we don’t have time for.”
Arac also claimed that in the nineteenth century, poet Edgar Allen Poe argued modern life was “so busy that the short story was the right form for it.”
Similar to Blinkist, literary app Instaread summarizes fictional works. Subscribers to Instaread can experience The Fountainhead, 1984, and Jonathan Franzen’s Purity via twenty-six-minute-or-less audio summaries.
When asked if a summary of Maxwell’s deposition would be enough for listeners, Sarah Allison – a professor of English and the author of Reductive Reading: A Syntax of Victorian Moralizing – replied, “It could be that, as a cultural document, the most important thing you need to know is: how was it summarized? Though, of course, these days, sometimes that’s memes or hot takes.”
Maxwell’s deposition gives readers lots to unpack. If you want to know more but don’t have the time, Blinkist is a way to catch up on the deposition without donating too much of your day.