Best Places to Find Book Summaries

book summaries - apps and websites

Book summaries offer a quick and efficient way to grasp the core insights of a full-length book, making complex ideas more accessible and digestible.

Perfect for anyone with a lengthy to-read list, these summaries let you capture essential knowledge, prepare for important meetings, or decide if a book merits further time—all within a fraction of the time it takes to read the original work.

These concise overviews are invaluable for busy individuals across various fields, including entrepreneurs, managers, executives, and students, enabling them to quickly absorb critical information.

This guide will highlight the top websites and resources for finding high-quality book summaries, especially for those in the business world.

What is a Summary of a Book?

A book summary is essentially a condensed version of a book, crafted by distilling its key points and insights into a shorter format. This process involves someone dedicating the time to read a book thoroughly and then succinctly capturing its essence, reflecting the original author’s ideas but through the summarizer’s interpretation.

Crucially, a book summary is not an act of plagiarism or an imitation. It’s a respectful abbreviation that credits the original author, providing a quick way to grasp the book’s main concepts without reading it in its entirety.

book summaries reader with pile of books behind

Where to Find Book Summary Websites

The market for book summary services is more extensive than one might think – offering plenty of options for the discerning reader. However, finding high-quality resources specifically for business book summaries might feel daunting. Not to worry, we have done the heavy lifting for you.

We have curated a list of ten exceptional resources where you can find comprehensive summaries for a wide range of business books.

ResourceDescriptionBest for
GetAbstractOffers over 20,000 summaries in multiple formats, available on various devices. 3-day free trial, then $99 per year for 5,000 summaries.Employees and managers in large enterprises; people with extensive reading lists; Kindle users.
SoundviewOffers 8-page summaries and 20-minute audio summaries. Access to 2,500+ summaries, webinars, newsletters for $199 per year.Corporate learning and individuals looking for a continuing education platform.
BlinkistProvides 3000+ titles mainly in the career and life success areas. Premium subscription for unlimited access.Auditory learners; those wanting access to a range of non-fiction topics.
ReadItFor.MeOffers a virtual learning platform, ActionClass, and book summaries. Pricing is $49 per month.Individuals looking for more than just reading; leadership development training.
SummariesProvides condensed 8-page summaries of business books. Subscription starts at $12 per month.Individuals seeking regular insights and topics.
OptimizeOffers summaries, motivational content, classes. Most content is premium.Those looking for deep insights for life and career improvement.
ReadingraphicsProvides summaries in infographic, written, and audio formats. Pricing starts at $14.14 per month.Visual learners; those who prefer skimming content.
InstareadCovers over 1,000 books in various topics. Offers summaries of articles. Prices start at $7.49 per month.Those wanting a diverse, MBA-type reading list.
FourMinuteBooksSpecializes in non-fiction, self-improvement books. Library of PDFs for $99, or 300 audiobooks for $49.Those who want podcasts of books; a regular reading regimen.
BookSummaryClubProvides snippets of 140 books. Users are referred to other sites like Blinkist or Instaread for full summaries.Entrepreneurs who prefer simplicity.

1. GetAbstract

GetAbstract is one of the big players in this industry, for good reason: it has the largest range of titles, with over 20,000 summaries. The service is aimed at the corporate world with categories like management, innovation, corporate IT. GetAbstract claims to serve more than one third of Fortune 100 organizations.

Its book summaries are high quality although some are a bit dry. They come in seven languages, including the English language. Every summary includes a rating, take-aways, popular quotes, and an author bio. Great features include the ability to highlight things, such as a favorite idea or several sentences.

There is a 3-day free trial and if you like it, you can subscribe for $99 per year to get 5,000 summaries. An upgrade gets you access to all books as well as multiple formats including Kindle, along with Android and iOS apps.

Best for: Employees and managers who work in large enterprises. With the largest catalog of high-quality book summaries, it is also ideal for people with lengthy reading lists and for Kindle users.

2. Soundview

Soundview pre-dates the internet, pioneering the concept of easy-to-read 8-page text and 20-minute audio summaries. It is another big player, and a Professional plan for $199 per year gets you access to 2,500+ summaries, webinars and newsletters. The service features corporate plans in additional to individual ones, including webinars with authors and tips videos.

Best for: Corporate learning and individuals looking for a continuing education platform.

3. Blinkist

Blinkist has a broad library of 3000+ titles. Many topics are in the career and life success areas — ranging from entrepreneurship to parenting to communication skills. You also get highlights from prominent podcasts.

A premium subscription gets you unlimited access to all titles to read and listen to voice recordings. You can highlight ideas and sync them with Evernote, as well as get the ability to download for offline access, and send to Kindle. So it’s a completely customizable experience. Sign up for the Free Daily newsletter to read one title a day at no charge.

Best for: Those who are auditory learners who want well-rounded access to a range of non-fiction topics.

4. ReadItFor.Me

ReadItFor.Me is really two services in one: a virtual learning platform called ActionClass and book summaries. More than a book club, the action classes are a leadership development program applying topics from books to your own action plan. ReaditForMe offers a schedule of classes three times per week around a specific book. Books include 36 leadership and soft skill competencies.

The free book summaries have a 14-day trial. If you like the books, you can subscribe. Pricing is very simple at $49 per month, or they can customize a program allowing team access in your firm.

Best for: Any person who wants something more than to fill a reading list. If you are looking for leadership development training, try it to make better life decisions.

5. Summaries

Summaries calls itself a life-time learning company providing concise information and tools, specializing in business books. It has some great books — self-help classics like The 7 habits of Highly Effective People and recent advice guides like Built not Born.

One of the best things about is that each summary condenses a 300+ page book into eight pages long. The company says their experience shows eight pages is the ideal length for someone to get the main ideas. Over 1,000 works are part of its offering, including everything from sales books to finance books.

A subscription starting at $12 per month gets you a new summary weekly. Or purchase by the piece, with prices starting at $15 for five. The website also offers a free plan with abbreviated 5-minute snapshots in blog posts (also downloadable as PDFs). The short free ones give you a taste — the lengthier size are more thorough on topics and advice.

Best for: Individuals who prefer to have a steady diet of insights and topics doled out on a regular basis.

6. Optimize is a resource website in the self-improvement niche. Along with motivational content and classes by founder Brian Johnson (the “Chief Philosopher”), subscribers also get access to a website section called Philosophers Notes. If you are looking to choose a self help book or a leadership book for learning how to improve your life and career, and you want summaries, then Philosophers Notes is a great place.

You get high quality, in-depth written summaries along with accompanying MP3 files. Examples include summaries of The Compound Effect: Jumpstart Your Income, Your Life, Your Success by Darren Hardy, and A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court by John Wooden. There are even a few free ones, although most are premium.

Best for: Those looking for deep insights to forge their place in the world. This service is really part of a life learning and self development platform.

7. Readingraphics

Now here’s an interesting concept: what if you could experience a book summary in a visual format, as an infographic? Sound crazy? It’s not. Readingraphics says “ideas come alive” with its graphics of non-fiction books. Readingraphics offers three formats:

  • infographic summary
  • 10-15 page written summaries
  • 20-minute audio files

The written summaries are interesting to read, and highly visual with bullets and callout boxes. You can buy a book summary bundle that includes all three formats. Pricing starts at $14.14 per month. Or you can purchase a single book summary starting at $9.97.

Subscribe to the company’s newsletter to get two of the all-time best business books summarized, for free: Think and Grow Rich, and How to Win Friends and Influence People.

Best for: Visual learners and those who prefer skimming bullets and short callouts, versus reading longer blocks of sentences.

8. Instaread

Instaread covers over 1,000 books in wide ranging topics such as politics, arts, fiction, nutrition and psychology. It gives the feel of a high-brow MBA, also offering summaries of Harvard Business Review, Kellogg Insight and New York Times articles. It features written and voice, with a focus on its mobile apps. Prices start at $7.49 per month. Requires a credit card to get a sneak peek.

Best for: Those who want a cosmopolitan, MBA-type reading list with a wide range of current topics.

9. FourMinuteBooks

FourMinuteBooks specializes in non-fiction books, with more than 800 mostly focused on self-improvement. New summaries, which the service says can be read in 4 minutes, come out three times a week and you can get notified via the email newsletter. You can purchase the library of PDFs for $99, or 300 audiobooks for $49. The audiobooks come as MP3s and on Soundcloud. It also offers bundles of free book summaries.

Best for: Those who want podcasts of books and /or a reminder to engage in a regular reading regimen.

10. BookSummaryClub

The BookSummaryClub appears to be an affiliate site. That’s not bad, but it’s important to realize that you may get a small taste of 140 books the site offers, and then will get referred over to another site such as Blinkist or Instaread to purchase THEIR summary. It’s a simple, easy to navigate website with books that startup entrepreneurs will like, and other interesting content such as lists of reading aids.

Best for: Entrepreneurs who like simplicity.

book summaries open book

Alternatives to Free Book Summaries

Book summary websites offer the incredible advantage of having a collection of concise summaries all in one place, often presented in various formats for the user’s convenience.

They carry out the tedious task of reading and summarizing books, making their services predominantly valuable for their convenience. However, if you’re not interested in subscribing to such services, there are a few alternative tools that can act as free book summaries, albeit not as extensively:

11. Wikipedia

Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia, holds thousands of entries that effectively serve as free book summaries. It requires some effort to search for each book separately, but many well-known books have their dedicated Wikipedia pages, adhering to the platform’s notability standards.

These pages might not necessarily be referred to as summaries, but they often provide a well-structured overview of the book’s main themes and topics. However, the quality can vary as the content depends on the expertise and writing style of the contributors who draft these entries.

12. Amazon Search Inside the Book

Amazon offers a unique feature known as “Search Inside the Book,” which can serve as an alternative to free book summaries. This feature allows potential readers to preview a part of the book before deciding whether to purchase it or not.

Publishers have control over how much content to expose for preview, but usually, 20% of the book is made available by default, including the table of contents and more.

Although this feature doesn’t provide summaries in the traditional sense, it grants a glimpse into the author’s work, which can help readers make an informed decision about their book purchases.

13. Book Reviews

Book reviews help you decide whether to buy a book. Reading reviews of great books is one more way of getting a summary of topics before investing more time or money.

A typical book review will tell you the main topic and why you should read the book, lessons contained, a little about the author, and who would most enjoy the book. See our Business Book Reviews section for over 800 reviews.

Our Methodology to Find the Best Places to Find Book Summaries

Finding the right sources for book summaries can greatly enhance your learning and comprehension, especially when time is limited. Here’s a guide to the criteria for selecting the best places to find book summaries, with each factor rated on a scale of importance from one (least important) to ten (most important).

  • Quality of Summaries (Importance Scale: 10/10)
    • Accurate and comprehensive coverage of key concepts and themes.
    • Well-written and easy to understand.
  • Range of Books Covered (Importance Scale: 9/10)
    • Wide selection of books across various genres and topics.
    • Inclusion of both classic and contemporary titles.
  • Accessibility and Format (Importance Scale: 8/10)
    • Easy access to summaries, preferably online.
    • Availability in various formats, such as text, audio, or video.
  • Credibility of Sources (Importance Scale: 10/10)
    • Summaries provided by knowledgeable and credible sources.
    • Expert analysis or insights where applicable.
  • Subscription Cost (if any) (Importance Scale: 7/10)
    • Reasonable pricing for subscription services.
    • Availability of free options or trials.
  • User Interface and Experience (Importance Scale: 8/10)
    • User-friendly website or app design.
    • Easy navigation to find specific book summaries.
  • Update Frequency (Importance Scale: 6/10)
    • Regular updates with new book summaries.
    • Keeping up with recent publications.
  • Interactivity and Additional Resources (Importance Scale: 5/10)
    • Interactive features like quizzes or discussion forums.
    • Supplementary resources for further reading or study.
  • Customization Options (Importance Scale: 4/10)
    • Ability to customize reading experience, like choosing summary length.
    • Personalized recommendations based on interests.
  • Community Aspects (Importance Scale: 4/10)
    • Features that allow engagement with other readers.
    • Sharing opinions or insights about the books.

Identifying the right sources for book summaries can dramatically enhance your learning curve, keeping you informed and inspired without overtaxing your most limited resource: time.

book summaries book reviewHow to Incorporate Book Summaries into Learning and Development Programs

  • Curated Learning Paths: Create thematic learning paths using book summaries to support professional development within organizations. For example, a learning path on leadership could include summaries of books by renowned leaders or researchers in the field.
  • Book Club Discussions: Organize virtual book clubs where participants discuss the insights gained from book summaries. This encourages deeper engagement and the application of ideas in a professional setting.
  • Training Material: Incorporate book summaries into training materials as a way to introduce complex concepts or inspire new ways of thinking without requiring extensive reading time.

Maximizing the Impact of Book Summaries for Entrepreneurs and Managers

  • Strategic Planning: Use insights from book summaries to inform strategic planning sessions, bringing fresh perspectives and innovative ideas to the table.
  • Team Building and Morale: Share inspirational book summaries with your team to boost morale and foster a culture of continuous learning and improvement.
  • Personal Efficiency: For entrepreneurs and managers juggling multiple responsibilities, book summaries provide a way to stay informed on the latest business trends and methodologies without detracting from other duties.

Creative Ways to Utilize Book Summaries in Education

  • Supplemental Learning Resources: Offer book summaries as supplemental resources to students, providing them with quick access to a broad range of subjects and perspectives.
  • Writing and Critical Thinking Exercises: Encourage students to compare and contrast book summaries with the full text, or with each other, as a way to develop critical thinking and writing skills.
  • Curriculum Development: Educators can use book summaries to quickly identify relevant materials to incorporate into their curriculum, enriching the learning experience with diverse viewpoints.

The Endless Possibilities of Book Summaries

In closing, it’s clear that book summaries serve as more than just a time-saving tool. They are gateways to deeper exploration, inspiration, and practical application in various aspects of life.

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a manager, an educator, or a lifelong learner, book summaries offer a flexible and efficient way to broaden your horizons, stay updated on new concepts, and continuously grow both personally and professionally.

Why Read Book Summaries?

People read book summaries to:

  • Learn information faster and save time for other things.
  • Be successful in the business world, life or school.
  • Sound knowledgeable in meetings.
  • Create reading lists to develop your team.
  • Get inspired to do bigger and better things.

Musician Frank Zappa once said: “So many books, so little time.” Book summaries address our shortened attention spans in the information age of the internet. Today some people have trouble concentrating on longer books. Book summaries allow us to get through more books in less time.

To illustrate, here’s a great summary of the widely acclaimed book, “Secrets of the Millionaire Mind” by Harv Eker:

What Makes the Best Book Summaries?

Great book summaries have straight-forward organization. They are easy to scan, with bullet points and limited amounts of text.

For non-fiction books, the book summary gives an interpretation of the big ideas and main topics, without the reader having to do all the hard work. Book summaries can be helpful for marketing books or for millionaire books, and much more.

Consider availability in different formats. For example, you may prefer reading in Kindle, or you may be in your car a lot and need to listen to information.

While book summaries undoubtedly offer valuable insights, they inherently provide a condensed version of the author’s original narrative.

What is the Ideal Length of a Book Summary?

The ideal length of a book summary depends on your reading frequency and goals. See the following considerations.

  • Goal: To decide whether to buy a book — For this purpose a few sentences or paragraphs may be all you need to decide whether the topic interests you enough to buy the book.
  • Goal: To be inspired by information and ideas — A longer summary is best if you want to learn what the author means or key topics without reading the entire book.
  • Goal: To speedily digest books — Some people want to read voraciously but have limited time blocks. A number of services specify how long their summaries take to consume. Whether reading, listening to book summaries while on a coffee break at your job, or using an app between appointments or at home — focus on a speedy reading experience.

book summaries book pile

What Formats Do Book Summaries Come In?

Historically, book summaries have been presented in written form. However, with the evolution of digital technology, the most innovative book summary services today have adapted to offer summaries in an array of formats to cater to diverse reading and learning styles.

These formats can include visually appealing infographics that depict key points in a graphic manner, engaging videos that narrate the book’s essence, downloadable MP3 files for those who prefer audio learning, downloadable PDFs for offline reading, and electronic epub files compatible with various e-readers including Kindle.

Furthermore, these services have expanded their reach into the mobile realm, offering their summaries via mobile apps. This allows users to make productive use of their time, say while enjoying a coffee at the local Starbucks, turning idle moments into opportunities for learning.

This way, you can speed through your reading list on-the-go without getting entangled in the time-consuming web of social media.

Summaries vs Study Guides: What is the Difference?

Study guides or study notes go beyond book summaries. Intended mostly for students, guides aim to add value by providing analysis and study aids. Study guides could be a 75-page PDF — or longer. Options include Spark Notes, Cliffs Notes, BookRags, A-Plus Notes. Study guides like Cliff Notes tend toward classic literature such as Macbeth or educational topics like biochemistry, not the latest business books. The better ones like Spark Notes or Cliffs Notes offer a mobile app, too. Teachers may also find them valuable.

book summaries book and phone

Image: Small Business Trends Media

Ivana Taylor Ivana Taylor is the Book Editor for Small Business Trends. She is responsible for directing the site’s book review program and manages the team of professional book reviewers. She also spearheads the annual Small Business Book Awards. Ivana publishes DIYMarketers, where she shares daily do-it-yourself marketing tips, and is co-author of "Excel for Marketing Managers."