Scribd has been in business since 2007.
- Unlimited access to many titles
- Personalized recommendations
- Device compatibility
Although Scribd isn't a traditional online bookstore, it's worthy of a review. After the successful rise of movie and television subscription services like Netflix and Hulu, Scribd was one of the first companies to carry that same idea over to the bookworm community, launching its all-you-can-read ebook subscription service in the fall of 2013. For $8.99 per month, Scribd subscribers gain unlimited access to approximately 500,000 titles. Scribd now has 80 million monthly subscribers.
Although Scribd received a lot of criticism when it was first launched for its inability to compete with the selection found on sites like Amazon or Barnes & Noble, Scribd now offers titles from many of the major publishing houses, including HarperCollins, Random House, Pearson, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Harvard University Press, among others. Scribd says it now features books from over 900 publishers, large and small. In addition to its ebook offerings, Scribd also has a library of millions of academic papers and articles from universities and scholars around the world. This could be a great resource for either college students or readers who are interested in digging deep into a particular field of study.
If you're looking for some new reading material, Scribd features a personalized recommendations engine that suggests books based on your previous reads, as well as collections of editorial book recommendations that you can browse.
Scribd is compatible with almost any type of device, including Apple, Android, Kindle Fire and Nook. You can also log into Scribd and read books from your web browser. Reading progress is synced so you can switch devices and pick up right where you left off with ease. The platform is sleekly-designed, easy to browse and returned accurate search results for our reviewers.
- Legal issues
- No print or audio books
- Limited book selection
In past years, Scribd was involved in some legal battles over accusations of copyright infringement. Because Scribd allows users to upload material to the Documents section of the site, there have been several cases in which copyrighted materials have been uploaded by a Scribd user without the authors' or publishers' consent and then read by other Scribd subscribers.
In response, Scribd added the BookID feature, which is an automated copyright system meant to catch unauthorized uploads so they can be taken down. The downside of the feature is that authors and publishers need to provide copies of their work to Scribd to be matched against uploads - even though Scribd promises the copies are just for verification purposes, authors and publishers are apprehensive to provide Scribd with copies of works that they haven't permitted to be included in the Scribd library.
On a less litigative note, it's worth mentioning that Scribd doesn't offer print or audio books - it's ideal for the ebook lover.
As part of our review process, we chose ten current New York Times bestselling-books (five Fiction and five Nonfiction) to compare across online bookstores, and Scribd only had four of the ten available. However, most of our choices did not fall into Scribd's most popular book categories, which are Romance, Business and Young Adult.
The Bottom Line
Although the many documented cases of copyright infringement occurring on Scribd initially left a bad taste in our mouths, Scribd has taken action to add features and procedures to correct the problem - and many authors have reported that Scribd has been quick to address recent reports of unauthorized uploads, sometimes removing them in as little as ten minutes from the time of the report. Scribd's willingness to resolve copyright infringement issues on its site, as well as add features to hopefully prevents such occurrences, shows that Scribd is striving to respect the rights of authors and publishers and provide ethical, legal reading material.
Scribd does offer an enjoyable reading experience, ample book titles to choose from and a quality recommendations engine - we see no reason not to recommend Scribd as long as it continues to address and improve upon the verification weaknesses of its document-upload platform. Should there be further reports against Scribd, we will lower our score accordingly.