A Scribd Review: Is This Book Service Worth It?

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I first came across Scribd in 2008 when I was writing a 5,000-word research essay at the last minute and frantically scouring the internet for quotes and white papers. My journey with Scribd started pretty much from the beginning of Scribd when they started as the first open source document sharing platform.

After using Scribd on and off again, it slipped off my radar for a while until it became available as an ebook platform where you could read an unlimited number of ebooks available through Scribd for a small subscription fee. These books were exclusive to the app and could not be sent to other devices that were not using the app. Then Scribd changed the game when it brought audiobooks to its collection at a lower price than most competing audiobook platforms out there. I flipped through the library to see what was available and I had to admit it was a fantastic catalog. Then I was addicted.

So I thought I’d break down my first impressions and experience with this Scribd review for anyone looking for a subscription.

What is Scribd?

Scribd claims to be a digital library that serves as a read-as-you-go service, similar to Hoopla and Libby. However, unlike the two, it is a paid plan, starting at $9.99. It offers a range of digital materials, including books, audiobooks, articles, magazines, and even music. I’ve rated my experience with Scribd based on four different factors, along with some of my recent favorite listens through the service.

Experience and interface

Signing up is quite simple and fast. Even if you activate a free trial, you’ll need to add payment information right away, but Scribd will email you before your trial expires, which I think is a nice touch.

Once you first sign up, you’ll be asked a series of questions about your preferred reading method – ebook, audiobook, magazines – and asked to save a number of titles. It then uses this information to build the first selections that you will see on your first official screen as a Scribd user.

Once inside, the page is broken down into a few sections, including but not limited to audiobooks, ebooks, magazines, and curated lists at the bottom. All these options can be adjusted with a filter at the top where you can only see one category, multiple genres, etc. It’s a fantastic option that keeps me from getting overwhelmed trying to decide what to read next.

Screenshot of Scribd homepage with text

Once you’ve picked a book in the format of your choice, it’s a smooth, customizable experience. The ebooks have different text and background options, bookmarks and the automatic saving of space in your apps on all devices. The audiobook feature offers multiple speeds and similar sync across all apps.

Star Rating: ★★★★

Algorithm and categorization recommendations

As you navigate through the catalog, you have the option to save the books that interest you, which, in case you are me, is pretty much any book. The more you save, the more similar title recommendations you’ll get. I know you were scarred by algorithm recommendations where you wanted to read something like Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle and read Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber instead, but these are much better.

Screenshot of Scribd's home screen

The categorization of the titles themselves is pretty accurate when it comes to genre categories and what you might like if you enjoy a particular title. Another great feature is the incredibly curated lists that have been personalized by a team of Scribd editors and include many updated and diverse titles.

Star Rating: ★★★★

Diversity and quality of available titles

The diversity of titles available in ebooks, audiobooks and other media is surprisingly excellent. They have some great books by black authors, Asian-American authors, and Native American authors, just to name a few.

The available titles offer an incredible range from classics, modern classics to recent releases. Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney is already on it and some other gems such as Sankofa and Razorblade Tears.

It also offers a wide variety of titles in all genres. Their romance category is a marvel to watch, including fantastic books like You Had Me at Hola and A Lot Like Adios, and even the fantastic witch novel The Ex Hex.

Star Rating: ★★★★

Is Scribd Really Unlimited?

The question you’ve all been waiting for is, is it really unlimited? It sure seems like that. However, there is a caveat.

In my experience, when I started using Scribd a lot for reading and listening, some of the titles I saved changed their status to “coming soon.” This turned out to be frustrating, as one of the titles I was in the middle of at the time (Beth O’ Leary’s The Flatshare) fell into that category, leaving me stranded in the middle without drawing a conclusion as to the fate of the characters in the story.

After further research in their FAQ, this is the explanation I found:

Our catalogs generally start to rotate the more you read, and the availability of the books and audiobooks in our library is based on several factors, including:

  • Terms related to the deals we have with our publishing partners
  • General consumption level
  • Cost
  • popularity

Based on this, their catalog may rotate due to publisher preferences or if you’ve skimmed through a lot of titles, especially the really popular ones. This pisses me off a bit, as it seems like a lack of transparency and a suddenness. I’d rather have a solid limit like Hoopla so I can adjust myself and make my choices accordingly. Keeping this in mind, keep in mind how many titles you store at once.

Star Rating: ★★★

Is Scribd worth it?

I’d say yes, especially with a 30-60 day free trial (it varies). It is a good amount of time for you to decide whether to proceed or not and for you to weigh the pros and cons.

If you’re looking for free options, check out our favorite free reading apps here.

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