I feel like I’d vaguely heard of Scribd before trying it out, but it wasn’t until I saw a free two-month subscription offered in theSkimm that I decided to give it a shot. And I’m really glad I did! It’s a great way to listen to audiobooks, and I took full advantage throughout my subscription.
If, like me, you’re not all that familiar with Scribd, you pay $8.99 a month and get access to their collection of audiobooks and ebooks, among other media. It’s primarily for a US audience, but I think they’re trying to grow their international presence, so it could still be worth looking into if you don’t live in the States. I kind of view it as paying for monthly access to a library where you don’t have any wait times, which is effectively what it is.
There is a catch, though. Scribd advertises its services as “Unlimited*” with an asterisk. That’s actually a big asterisk, because they limit the number of audiobooks you can listen to per month. The issue is, there isn’t a set limit on the number of audiobooks you can listen to. I think you can pretty much count on listening to two, but after that Scribd will start throttling your service, and your access will become limited to certain titles, often older ones. Personally, I listened to two titles before finding the bulk of my reading list restricted from access. After I listened to a third one, all of the books I wanted to read were restricted until my next billing cycle, though I did later find another audiobook I could have listened to in that time period.
I really dislike how the service is advertised and how murky the details are, and I was definitely irritated by seeing part of my reading list restricted even though I knew it was coming. But I do think it’s safe to say you can listen to at least two or three audiobooks per month on this subscription, which is still a great deal. That brings the price of an audiobook down to less than a medium latte at Starbucks (at least by NYC prices).
Despite that, I really enjoyed my experience trying out Scribd. I love that it’s got tons of books available immediately and I don’t have to wait for months like I might at the library, plus it’s cheaper than if I used an Audible credit on an audiobook if I listen to more than one audiobook in a month (my yearly Audible subscription comes out to about $8.33 per credit with the discount I used, but the value of Scribd could be a lot higher for you depending on your Audible subscription).
As for the audiobook function on the app, I thought it was fine. The library app Libby is still the best by far in terms of functionality, and I think Audible has a bit of a smoother appearance, but it was a totally adequate app. I especially like that it gives you the ability to tell what percentage into an audiobook you are, though you do have to navigate to your saved list in order to see it — it’s not displayed on the audiobook page itself. (Also, note that the time left calculated below the percentage definitely rounds down…it told me I had an hour left in an audiobook that was actually an hour and 40 minutes.) Comparatively, on Libby it’s as easy as tapping through the times on the player control screen, but it’s a huge step up from Audible, where you have to share your progress with someone in order to see your percentage.
In addition to audiobooks, Scribd also lets you read ebooks in the app. It’s a nice feature, and they definitely had some books I was interested in, though I don’t think the selection is as extensive as the audiobook one. For some reason, though, I really didn’t love the reading interface. My first preference for ereading will always be my kindle paperwhite, and I LOVE that I can send ebooks to my kindle from the library. But I do occasionally choose to read ebooks on my phone instead, and I don’t mind it on the kindle app. I think it’s because that’s what I’m used to that I didn’t especially care for the Scribd interface. It definitely has too big of margins around the outside of the page that could be used to fit more text on the screen, but otherwise it’s totally adequate. I think I’ve maybe just become too dependent on the “minutes left in chapter” function on my kindle, I’m not sure. So I personally wouldn’t recommend signing up for Scribd for their ebook collection, but a lot of that is personal preference. I’m probably just being too picky!
Of course, the big question for a lot of people is how Scribd compares to Audible. Honestly, I think they offer two rather different things, though it probably doesn’t make sense to have both if you don’t listen to a ton of audiobooks. I personally have a yearlong subscription to Audible where I paid about $100 for 12 credits, which averages out to $8.33 per credit, so the price point is pretty comparable if I only listen to one audiobook per month. And I know Scribd does annual memberships that can bring the cost of their service down even more.
For me, the main thing is to decide how many audiobooks you listen to, when, and whether or not they’re likely to be in Scribd’s collection. I usually only listen to maybe one audiobook per month, frequently nonfiction, though sometimes it can take me two months to finish an audiobook and other times I can listen to three in a month. It just depends. It’s nice that for Audible, I’ve already prebought the credits and they’re there when I want them, and I don’t listen to enough audiobooks that I felt like I needed to save them. But I definitely bumped up my audiobook usage while testing out Scribd, and I’d be interested to see if that’s a trend that would continue if I maintained my subscription. However, the odds are also high that I’d wind up paying for this subscription and then rarely using it and taking too long to cancel, so idk.
Also, a lot of the audiobooks I bought with my Audible credits aren’t actually part of Scribd’s collection, so I’m not sure I would have been able to listen to them if it weren’t for my Audible account. The bulk of them were used on the Royal Spyness series, which I really enjoyed listening to, and I’m reluctant to give that up in case I stumble across a similar series that I love but isn’t available at my library. Plus, Audible has the rights to some exclusive audiobooks, like Tevor Noah’s Born a Crime and Alyssa Cole’s The AI Who Loved Me, and I’d hate to miss out on a great audiobook because I’m no longer on Audible. That said, I can definitely see myself taking advantage of a lot more new releases through Scribd instead of waiting for them to come in at my library and then never listening to them anyways, and I could potentially start a monthly Audible subscription when I actually have something exclusive to them that I want to listen to.
Basically, for my listening purposes, I can see benefits to both plans, and I really don’t know which one I’ll use going forward. I’m thinking I’ll cash in my last few credits and let my Audible subscription lapse in September, and I’ve already suspended my Scribd subscription for a few months so I don’t let the last of it run out while I’m not in the mood to listen to audiobooks. Honestly, that’s a really nice feature, and I could see that being the deciding factor, but I’m not sure yet. For now, I’m going to listen to the audiobooks I’ve accumulated through various Audible sales (a nice feature that Audible has) and the ones I’ve had on hold at the library for ages, and then decide once I’m all caught up on which subscription plan I’ll sign up for again.
Have you ever used Scribd? Does it sound like something that could work for you? Let me know in the comments, along with any questions you might have about Scribd!