Is Readwise Worth It?

I have an idea of how I want to work. Sometimes when I come across an insightful article or book I like to keep note of useful information, interesting concepts, or just quotes. Currently, I’m using a collection of different tools that enable this; Instapaper for online media, Kindle highlights for my books, and LogSeq to capture any other media notes. The issue is that all these systems are separate and introduce friction in trying to rediscover interesting content you’ve previously digested. Most of the “output” you have created is locked away behind UIs that present no easy export options.

Readwise aims to solve this problem, by giving a single location for all your highlights and snippets to coalesce into a single, reviewable view. Their exporting tools allow for quickly moving your important highlights from Readwise to other PKM, such as Notion, and Roam.

Most people look at the price and wonder if it is really worth the $7.99/month price tag. Initially, when I first encountered Readwise it only had a basic Roam export and the price felt high for what was essentially a fancy Kindle sync. After reviewing the feature set now, the team added more and more features that I can start to see the benefit of the tool.

At the time of writing (2021-02-04), Readwise supports the following sources:

  • Kindle
  • Instapaper
  • Hypothesis
  • Goodreads
  • Medium
  • Airr
  • Feedly
  • Pocket
  • Twitter
  • Apple Books
  • Their own web highlighter
  • Manual imports from Email, CSV, free form text, photos, * PDFs
  • Scribd
  • O’Reilly Learning
  • Google Play Books
  • Command

They’re very quickly approaching IFTTT levels of integration for highlights! While I only use 5 of these sources I can’t wait to see what else the team introduces shortly.

Readwise posted on their blog “Why we’re bootstrapping Readwise” which breaks down their decision. In short, they don’t feel the product they want to build will appeal to the VCs, so they’ve decided to let paying customers drive their future progress. Turning away free users will have an impact, but having a small and loyal customer base will push them in the right direction for the market they want to target.

It comes down to a few questions, Would you prefer to pay a premium for a product that fulfills a niche? If so, how much of a premium would you consider paying? By not allowing their product to be driven by a VC, Readwise is concentrating on their core following who helped bootstrap the idea. Too many companies get sucked into the “VC thinking” of mass-market appeal, slowly transforming into something that doesn’t represent the original goals they had.

Is it a good tool? Yes. Is it for you? Maybe, maybe not. Is it worth the price? Totally.