Trying out Scribd


2015 seems to be my year of trying bookish online subscription services. First, I tested audible and I can report that I’m still happy with their selection and my nausea-free commute.

In recent weeks I’ve also been looking at the various e-book flats, such as Oyster, Scribd and Kindle Unlimited. Since I own a kindle, I figured Kindle Unlimited would be ideal, but I find their selection to be quite limited (ha!). They have popular books, but not all of the major publishing houses and nearly all the books I was interested in cost extra. Oyster may be great for everyone with Apple products, but I’m not a fan. Which is why I then signed up for Scribd 14-day trial. The “Netflix for books” offers access to their library of books, documents, comics and audiobooks (soon you only get 1 credit per month) for $8,99.

I know Scribd from their days as a document and presentation sharing platform and more recently from Duke UP’s Reading Friday, where you get to read a couple of chapters of their new releases on Scribd. Their academic books are a big part of why I’m interested in Scribd in the first place, of course there is not a ton of the newest UP releases, but they do have many new-ish works that are activist and scholarly anthologies, memoirs etc. and I can use for context. I do have my university library, of course, but my field is kinda niche and lets not talk about the budget for my particular interests. Usually when they have the books I need there’s only one copy, everyone else suddenly needs it, too, and though their e-book selection is growing slowly, I end up having to scan way too many pages.

On to the comics: I think at the beginning of the year or there around, Scribd started offering comics, lots of Marvel, but also such gems as March and Lumberjanes.  And then there are so many novels I want to read, my Scribd library looks insane. I heard there’s hardly any new releases, but that’s not a particular concern of mine and so far I have enough ebooks to last me a good long while plus several train conductor strikes.

What I’m not so fond of is that I cannot read any Scribd stuff on my kindle, but I’ve read two ebooks on my phone app recently and it didn’t trigger migraines, so I think I’ll be fine. But this is something that irritates me. I want that Russian smart phone with the e-ink on one side! Also, Scribd works on iOS and android and of course in any browser, but I read somewhere there’s either no windows tablet app or a pretty bad one. For all those audiobook fans, Scribd let me know immediately after signing up that the all the audiobooks you want thing is apparently over and it’s now unlimited books and 1 audiobook a month.

I think at $8,99 a month, the price is also a concern of mine. But I’ve quit my gym membership, so it’ll fit my budget fine. And let me rant tell you about libraries in Germany: They are not free! (apparently that’s the case in the UK?) I’ve always been okay with the reduced student price, but now I’m not living in a major city, their budget here sucks and the selection is very very narrow, the e-book library is even worse. Also, they don’t charge a yearly flat, but per pile of books once you’re over 20 and extra for bestsellers, DVDs etc but also for renewing books or ILL. And I rarely read in German. So, $8,99 doesn’t sound too bad.

Also, more recently I’ve been thinking of the books I own (finally all in one place, even if only for a couple of months) and why I purchased them. That’s really something for another blog post, but the gist of it is that quite often I bought books I really wanted to read at one time, but couldn’t get a hold of any other way and had to buy. And I want to start putting together a library, not just a mess of books that ended up on my shelves. So that’s what I’m taking into account while I try out Scribd and decide whether to subscribe or not, even if it would only be for the next few months. I’ve already read two otherwise very expensive graphic novels, amazing short stories and now a great fantasy.

Has anyone tried ebooks flats? What are your thoughts on Kindle Unlimited, Scribd and Oyster?


12 thoughts on “Trying out Scribd

  1. no i found the selection of books in translation rather limited rather like netflix is for world cinema maybe someone will do a small service for more tranalsted books I would like iea of that .

    1. A translated lit ebook flat would be an amazing thing! I think translations are a problem I don’t have, lots of works are translated into German, luckily. My focus is on women of color in the US though, and my library has hardly any works.

  2. Interesting post, Bina!
    I’ve just added Scribd to my list, with Audible (I haven’t even tried Audible yet).
    It’s great they have comics on Scribd, I can’t find any libraries with a good collection of comics (you see, I’m complaining…I’ll probably discover a library with lots of amazing comics in a few days 😉 haha). Also, the prize doesn’t sound too expensive. Although I have no idea how much my budget is….I mean, I don’t have a permanent job and I’m not even sure how much I’ll get for my Summer job.

    How much do library fees are in Germany?
    Libraries are free in Italy, so I can’t really complain about them! Oh well, I do pay taxes…so perhaps I am entitled to complain a bit. 😉 Only ILL is not free here (1€ per book), it usually takes at least 2 weeks and the service has got really bad recently.
    If libraries weren’t free, I think I’d have tried e-books a lot earlier.

    Can’t wait to read your blog post about the books you bought.

    1. Heh I’m sure that you’ll soon find a great library with comics, your complaining is magic 😉

      Yeah ILL is around 1,50 here as well and also takes ages. It differs from library to library and also the budget of the city and the state (probably Bavarian libraries are awesome). A yearly fee in Hamburg for students was 16 euros I think, it’s more for others. But I lived the selection there.

      I’d think twice about Scribd, too, with a too tight budget. I decided running outside was enough excercise and I hardly went to the gym, so I could spend the 9$.
      Do you have an ereader or do you read ebooks? If so you might check on bookriot. com for their daily deals. Often ebooks are then 1-2 euros 🙂

      The ebooks I’m borrowing on Scribd or the real books I want to buy for my library?

      1. You mentioned a (hypothetic) future post about the books you own (and why you purchased them), I think it’d be an interesting post. Recently I’ve been thinking about the books I own…because I’m not sure if keeping them all or donating the ones I’m sure I’ll not read again.

        My complaining hasn’t worked…yet 😉

        I’ve only recently started reading ebooks (from the sites you suggested me a few months ago), they’re a great solutions for those English books I can’t borrow from libraries and I don’t want to/can’t buy “as real books”.

        1. Good to hear, I definitely want to do a personal library post this year. I sorted through my books and ended up donating 1 huge sack full of books that I just didn’t want to reread or own.
          And the ebook thing works great so far, even though I miss the feeling of real books 🙂 Good to hear it works for you as well.

          Heh, hope your complaining works soon!

  3. I tried out Scribd for the first time this year. Decided I liked it enough and continued for the first month after the trial period ended. Then they changed their audio books bit. But I don’t really listen to audio books much so I wasn’t affected by it. I did listen to some kids audio books with my kids though and they enjoyed it. But I did find this link to an annual subscription
    You can’t be signed into Scribd when you look at this site though and they seem to not ever advertise the fact that they have such a plan! It’s a lot cheaper at 3.99 a month but you have to pay for the year upfront. And first cancel your current monthly subscription (your library remains intact when you sign up again). But for me I like that it’s only about 48 a year instead of 8.99 a month!

    1. Thanks so much, way cheaper, I’ll have a look at the yearly subscription option. Yeah I use audible so 1 scribd ebook a month doesn’t bother me.

  4. Interesting post, Bina. I remember finding an out-of-print Brazilian novel in Scribd (a used copy in Amazon cost around 500 dollars!) and I was tempted to join at that time. So nice to know that it is thriving now. Hope you enjoy your Scribd experience. I don’t read e-books as of now, though I am thinking seriously of getting into them. My home is cluttered now and while I was trying to organize my book collection a few days back, I discovered that It is too much for my place. I am thinking I should buy only e-books from now on, because of space considerations and maybe the occasional paper book.

    1. That’s so great that the book was available on Scribd!
      Heh too many book? I just sorted out one huge sack of books that I realized I had two copies, or that I bought to read but don’t really want to read again etc. So now I want to start getting books together that I want in my personal library and read ebooks for all the books I want to read at the moment or am not sure I want to own. Perhaps that approach could help with your problem? 🙂 Or get more books from the library 🙂

  5. Dude! I am shocked and appalled at the way your library charges. In Frankfurt it is a yearly fee of 16 euros. The late fees are steep, but otherwise I find 16 a year very reasonable.

    Also: Russian smart phone with e-ink on one side? Whoa. That sounds kinda cool. My phone is my reading device as well.

    1. I know, sighhhh, stupid town here is only interested in its technical university and not in funding the library 😦 16 € a year I can only dream of.
      Isn’t that a cool phone? I hear they’re also working on a tablet with e-ink!

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