If you love reading, chances are you are always on the lookout for the latest titles and if you are just as busy as I am, completing a physical book can be a very challenging task nowadays. However, audiobook changes all that for the better and in today’s Scribd app review, I’ll show you what’s inside, the reading experience and also some extra features to benefit your cash pocket.
So make sure you read until the very end.
What Is Scribd?
Scribd’s venture started in 2007 as an open publishing platform that allows anyone to share ideas easily online. Several years later, they added books, then audiobooks and now, you can find a huge collection of digital magazines, sheet music, and reputable articles within the membership subscription.
The first time I heard about Scribd was when someone from a blogging community suggested that online magazine is a good source for brainstorming niche ideas. I went to check out the site and found that it has audiobooks selection as well. I have never seen magazines and audiobooks being offered through the same platform so it was kind of interesting.
At that point, I had tried several audiobook services and wasn’t too impressed with their price points and features. So when Scribd offers a free trial without commitment, I jump right into the opportunity. I’ve been using it for more than half a year now and really enjoy listening to the audio while driving or browsing through some top magazines during my lunch hour.
The Subscription Fee
The entry point to the subscription is a free trial. If you sign up from the front end of the main site, the trial period is 30 days. If you follow a referral link (like this one), the time frame is extended to 60 days.
After the trial ends, you’ll be charged $8.99 per month for unlimited access (more on this later) to their library. In my case, I actually get up to 3 months free and was offered $7.99 per month when I subscribed for the yearly plan. So that was pretty awesome.
They do ask for a credit card or PayPal account information during the trial. Most merchants do that to make sure the card is valid and lets you access their products without any interruption. If you don’t want to proceed with the paid subscription for whatever reason, you can cancel anytime during the trial.
How to Use the App
While Scribd can function perfectly on desktop, it’s the mobile version that I use all the time. The apps are available through the App Store, Google Play and Kindle Fire. After signing up for the trial, you’ll be prompted to download one of these apps, after which you can start searching for stuff to read or listen to.
There are basically six formats to choose from.
- Books are generally eBooks that you can read off the screen.
- Audiobooks are books that you can listen to on the go OR download for offline listening.
- Snapshots are key insights from a book that are presented for short reads.
- Magazines are digital magazines (some of the top names here are Entrepreneur, INC and TIMES)
- Documents are materials the community has uploaded for member’s to use (you can find guidebooks, business templates, promotional copies and etc. in this section)
- Sheet music is basically music notes for trending and charting songs. They are divided according to instruments, genre, and artists.
Under the book/audiobook collection, titles are divided into the following categories;
- Career & Money
- Personal Growth
- Politics & Current Affairs
- Science & Tech
- Health & Fitness
- Biographies & History
When you select a title of interest, this is what you’d see.
Among the information, most relevant here are the description, reader reviews and the time it takes to complete the audiobook. If you like the title, I recommend downloading in advance so you can always access the book without relying on a WiFi availability. I do that all the time until it overkills my mobile storage (oops!) and then I start deleting some unwanted titles.
Alternatively, save first and then organize the selections so you always have some titles that are ready to go. Upon completing a book, I would also leave a rating and my comment to guide future listeners in deciding whether the title is worth listening or not.
Monetizing Features Worth Mentioning
If you are passionate about books AND interested to make some extra cash online, you are going to like the additional features I am about to discuss.
Firstly, every Scribd member (whether they are on trial or paid) will have a referral link that can be sent out via email, share on blogs or social media. Whenever someone joins through that link, you’ll earn one free month on top of your subscription plan. This doesn’t actually add cash to your pocket, but cumulatively, it lets you access the library for free.
The second method is to use monetization links through an in-text advertising network. It works very much like affiliate marketing and is suitable for any article that mentions product or brand names. For bloggers, it’s a good add-on to your list of book-related affiliate programs.
Unlike the usual way of manually placing the affiliate links yourself, the network will scan the entire blog and generate affiliate links based on the text of the content. That means you can potentially earn more sales commissions from other merchants without being affiliated to them in the first place.
Sovrn Commerce (formerly Viglink) is the network that manages the placement of such links for Scribd. The commission is based on CPA (cost per action) and it pays $7.50 per subscription. Typically, the company keeps 25% of the commission while the remaining 75% goes to you.
Even though the profit isn’t 100%, I think it’s still a good margin seeing that all the merchant matching process and linking technology are done at their end. All that’s needed of you is to install code inside your blog and the rest will be taken care of by the company.
Granted, you need to have a lot of content running otherwise there wouldn’t be any relevant text to convert into monetizing links. If you’ve never owned a blog before, here’s an easy tool to help you set up a WordPress site for free.
Another feature that stands out is that every book has got a set of social links for you to recommend on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or via email. Each comes with a short message on which you can add your referral link if you like. Very nicely laid out and very easy to use.
What I Like About Scribd
Plus, it doesn’t have the annoying credit system often found in such services. Here are the price points and selection sizes of some competitors in the industry for your comparison.
- Audible – 30 days free trial, $14.95/month, 180,000 + titles, credit system allows for one audiobook per month
- Audiobooks.com – 30 days free trial, $14.95/month for 2 books, 100,000+ titles
- Downpour – no trial, $12.99/month, 60,000 + titles, credit system allows one audiobook per month
- Google Audiobook – no trial, buy audiobook individually at varying costs.
- Kobo Audiobook – 30 days free trial, $9.99/month for one audiobook only
In regards to the term ‘unlimited access’, there’s actually a cap involved. From what I’ve read from other reviews, it seems that if you listen to more than a certain number of books, your access will be limited until a later date.
At the rate of 2 to 3 audiobooks per month, there hasn’t been any problem for me so far. So we shall see how it goes.
Another feature I’ve discovered recently is the Member Exclusive section that gives you free access to other services that Scribd is partnering with. They are;
- Blinkist– Gain Key ideas from important books in just 15 minutes
- Pocket – Let’s you Save anything from the web and access offline (something like the Evernote app)
- MUBI – Stream curated movies from around the world (this is something I’ve not tried before)
- FarFaria – Access to Unlimited children’s books for kids ages 2 to 9
There’s just a small catch here though. This feature isn’t visible on the app – you’ve got to log into the desktop version and click under your profile to find it.
What Can Be Improved
The only (tiny) problem I have with Scribd is that they don’t carry the latest titles all the time. When a best seller is getting raving reviews, it never seems to make its way into their library until much later. So that’s a bit of a bummer.
Other than that, I don’t have further complaints. After all, there are always other books and magazines to keep me busy.
Is Scribd Worth The Subscription?
For me, it’s a definite yes. Listening to audiobooks daily has improved on my vocabularies, my productivity and immersed me in a profound world of readership I’ve never knew existed. Some made me laugh, some moved me and some simply wowed me.
I continuously draw positive vibes from the audiobooks and it serves as a good motivation for my daily circumstances and challenges. Since starting on the Scribd app early this year, I’ve completed 9 books. Last year (and the years before), I couldn’t even finish two, so I consider that a big leap of achievement.
If you are a busy person like me or haven’t read a book in a long time, do try out Scribd for a month or two and see where it will lead your mind to. I hope you’ve enjoyed this review and let me know if you have any questions or comments down below.
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