Ideal for readers who want to be surprised

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There are plenty of reasons why a digital reading subscription makes sense. You don’t need physical shelf space, you save on the price of books, you can browse a virtual library any time of the day – the list goes on. But just like the streaming market, the range of e-book subscription services is increasingly crowded. So where does Scribd fit in?

Scribd is a reading subscription service that not only offers eBooks, but also audiobooks, podcasts, magazines, and more. It launched in Australia in the middle of 2021 and I gave it a good test over the past few months.

Here are some thoughts from my experience.

Scribd Review

What’s good?

Screenshots: Scribd

There’s a lot to like about Scribd. Its strength really lies in its diversity of content types.

While some subscription reading services only offer e-books, Scribd offers a whole range of different things to read and listen to. Not only are there books, but there are magazines, newspapers, podcasts, audiobooks, sheet music, and documents – including things like scripts and court documents.

There are even a few Scribd Originals with works by artists like Roxane Gay and Margaret Atwood.

You could spend hours searching through the content offered by Scribd. Problems arise when you search for a specific content item, but we’ll get to that later.

Another advantage of Scribd is its format. The app is clean and user-friendly. Similar to a streaming service, it has rows with your saved titles, recommended content based on what you’ve read or searched for, and sections for top charts and editor’s picks.

On that note, Scribd’s algorithm is also very good. I saved a few titles that I liked and it quickly started giving me relevant recommendations.

Another feature that I particularly liked was the curated playlists that featured notable author picks with their favorite titles on Scribd.

Screenshot: Scribd

Editor’s picks are also a nice touch with recommendations from Scribd staff. It made me feel like I was in a bookstore with the little handwritten reviews on the staff books.

It’s stuff like this that helps show the diversity of titles Scribd has to offer and has helped me find titles I never thought I’d read otherwise.

In terms of the reading experience on Scribd, there’s not much to complain about.

The interface is clean and easy to use. There are options to make your text bigger or smaller, a widget that tells you how many pages are left in a chapter, and additional options for taking notes and bookmarks.

scribd review
Image: Lifehacker Australia/Scribd

The app is available on a wide range of devices, including iOS, Android, and Amazon Fire players, and it’s easy to connect and retrieve your reading across different devices. Gadgets like Kindles, Kobo and Nook GlowLight are not compatible.

Scribd certainly gives subscription services like Kindle Unlimited and Audible their money’s worth, but it’s not without its issues.

What’s not so good?

Scribd Review
Screenshot: Scribd

My main problem with Scribd, as I mentioned before, is its lack of specific content. If you come to Scribd hoping to find the latest and greatest releases, you might be disappointed.

Like any subscription service, Scribd relies on license fees to offer content below its subscription price. This means there won’t be all the books you might find in a library or bookstore.

While I was able to find a suitable range of books that interested me, by searching for current hits like the witcher or even Harry Potter only displayed adjacent content.

Sometimes Scribd could get away with offering the audiobook version of a major title but not the ebook version, or vice versa. I admit it was frustrating to find a lack of mainstream reads on the platform, or at least not find them in the format I was looking for.

My thoughts on this is that Scribd is probably best for those who are either avid readers and are constantly on the lookout for new titles, or those looking to find something new and unexpected.

At $14.99 per month, Scribd isn’t the most expensive reading subscription, but you’ll want to make sure there’s a selection of content you’re interested in before signing up. Fortunately, there is a 30-day free trial for this.

Scribd Review: The Verdict

Image: Lifehacker Australia

Scribd is marketed as “Netflix for eBooks” and I have to say that description really hits the mark.

Netflix is ​​a streaming service that doesn’t rely on a legacy library of blockbuster content. It’s backed by a range of exclusive originals and an evolving algorithm that will serve you content based on what you like.

Scribd is similar, it learns quickly what you like and will offer similar titles in its lineup that you may not have found yet. It is perfect for those who are open to new experiences and want to ride the wave that the algorithm offers them.

As someone who doesn’t have as much time to read as I would like, I often only buy a book that I know I’m interested in reading. This makes a Scribd subscription less efficient for me since I’m not as interested in browsing.

Maybe you’re a different type of reader and have browsed through all the mainstream titles, which makes you want to check out something new. Perhaps you are also likely to read several titles per month; justifying the $15 fee.

For you, Scribd is a top choice. You will have unlimited reading options and it is much more efficient than shelling out money for each individual ebook or audiobook.

Everything I’ve seen so far on Scribd is encouraging, but it’s the missing content that’s frustrating. However, the platform is still in its infancy and continues to grow its volume of original and licensed content, which makes me optimistic about its potential in the future.

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