Detailed Scribd review: Is It Worth It? Pros, Cons & Comparisons

Scribd boasts that you get unlimited access to over a million titles of books, audiobooks, magazines, sheet music, and more with a Scribd subscription. Dubbed “The Netflix of Audiobooks,” this ebook subscription service has high hopes of taking over the online reading market.

With a slightly lower monthly subscription fee than Kindle Unlimited and quite a bit cheaper than an Audible subscription, is Scribd worth it? This Scribd review will give you all of the information you need to understand which book subscription service is right for you.

The Scribd App

Compatible with most devices, with the exception of e-ink readers like the Kindle Paperwhite, the Scribd app is user-friendly and relatively clean. It is easy to organize and access your account and your library and appeals to both Android and Apple users. It is easy to install, subscribe, and use. It also boasts the option for offline reading so that you can download popular titles.

Does Scribd Offer a Free Trial?

Yes, Scribd offers a free trial. However, you must provide your credit card information or a debit card number to access the free trial. Also, once you have accessed the free trial, you must cancel within thirty days, or you will be charged. This service does make automatic payments, and your Scribd membership will cost you $8.99 a month if you fail to cancel the free trial on time.

Do You Really Have Unlimited Access to Ebooks and Audiobook Titles?

This is a tricky question and one that gives Scribd a bit of a bad rap. Scribd claims that you can download or read as much as you want each month. Unlimited books for less than ten dollars a month is a great value. However, many users have expressed disappointment in this claim, saying it’s simply not true.

Is it Really Unlimited?

Unlimited reading is a bit of a stretch, according to some users. While Scribd books are readily available at the beginning of each pay cycle, many users find that Scribd throttles the titles and availability as the month goes on, limiting that unlimited reading they said that you could do.

If you’re just a casual reader or don’t complete more than one audiobook or so each month, then this isn’t going to be much of an issue for you. However, if you love audiobooks and consume them in quick succession, you may find the selection lacking after your second or third audiobook in a month. Worse yet, you may see that audiobooks are not offered at all after you’ve accessed a few in one month.

The really bad part is that Scribd doesn’t inform the users that the content is about to get throttled or that they are close to hitting a limit. There’s no real way of knowing just when the throttling process starts. This practice makes some users feel as though they have been misled at best and outright lied to at worst. A modest reader may be okay with the selection throughout the month. It may be a concern for a voracious reader, however.

Romance Readers Beware

Users of the Scribd app started to pick up on the throttling trend when romance book titles began to vanish. Is it because the genre isn’t all that popular? Definitely not. With growing suspicion that the book service pulled these titles from their monthly subscription service due to the fact that romance ebooks are generally consumed quickly by fans, more and more readers and users started to notice that other genres were being throttled as well.

If you like romance, you may be disappointed with the e books of this genre that are available to you. While the unlimited reading pitch isn’t a complete scam, and you can most likely find older titles available to you, you will most likely find that the number of titles available is lacking in this genre.

Scribd Review, digital reading subscription

Audible vs. Scribd Review

When it comes to audiobooks, Scribd most likely knew it would have a hard time knocking Audible off its throne. Wildly popular but much more expensive, Audible, an Amazon-owned audiobook subscription service, has long been the top service avid readers prefer when it comes to audiobooks. So the question is, does Scribd stand a chance against this audiobook giant?

Scribd Offers Other Media Options

Scribd’s one major bragging point that Audible doesn’t is other media available. A new subscription to Scribd gets you ebooks, sheet music, magazines, and other convenient app features that many users find interesting. These features and the fact that Scribd costs roughly half of what Audible does for a monthly subscription fee gives Scribd a bit of a leg up.

Scribd does have access to titles of audiobooks and ebooks from what is known as “The Big Five,” the publishers that produce the heavy hitters. These publishers are; Penguin Random House, Hachette, Harper Collins, Simon and Schuster, and MacMillan. With these big companies granting Scribd access to their work, there are a lot of audiobooks to choose from without ever having to consider the massive number of ebooks available.

However, Scribd doesn’t really come close to Audible in terms of numbers. The giant of audiobooks boasts three times the number of titles with their subscription service, and they don’t throttle. Sure, you are limited in your reading, but they don’t tell you that you have an unlimited number of books available and then throttle their library. They’re upfront about limits. This throttling issue makes up the bulk of negative reviews about how Scribd works.

Do You Own Your Downloaded Audiobooks?

With Audible, yes, you own your downloaded audiobooks, whereas, with Scribd, you do not. While this doesn’t matter to some readers, it matters a lot to others. Think of it this way. Would you rather rent books and then return them, or would you prefer purchasing the same book for a bit more than the rent price and owning it forever? That is the major difference between the two services.

With Audible, every book that you purchase and download is yours for good, even if you cancel your account. However, this is not true of Scribd. All the books that you have downloaded on Scribd are gone when you cancel your subscription. 

Kindle Unlimited Vs. Scribd Review

Kindle Unlimited, also owned by Amazon, not only offers several different types of media, but they also produce and sell their own e-readers. They have audiobooks, ebooks, and access to other sorts of media, just like Scribd. So what are the differences?

Kindle Unlimited Gives You Access to More Books

Kindle Unlimited has many more books in their library than Scribd does, and they don’t boast an unlimited download offer when really unlimited is quite arguable. The Kindle library is massive, and for one dollar more for an account and access to their website, many argue that it’s worth the money to go with Kindle.

Scribd Allows You to Post Your Own Content

One feature that Scribd can boast is that users can upload their own content (within reason) to the page or site when they have a membership. While you won’t make money doing this, those who are interested in sharing their own creations may do so, as long as what they wish to upload is a small enough file.

Other Features of Scribd

We’ve covered some of the big features of the Scribd service, but there are other features that Scribd offers that are worth taking note of as well.

Sleep Timer, Book Marks, and Notes

Scribd offers a sleep timer that can be set for your screen, as well as bookmarks, highlighters, and a note-taking feature. With a large library that includes several forms of media such as magazines, books to read and listen to, music, movies, and newspapers so that you can stay informed, many users love these slick features. 

A few months into the service, many users start to really get into the swing of using these features, and some will tell you that these small things make the difference for them.

Scribd Review, audio books

The Business Model

Scribd knew when it started in 2007 that it was up against some pretty big competition. While the library can’t quite compete with the other Amazon services, Scribd does have a massive library of books, audiobooks, magazines, and sheet music. While their membership, even in free trial mode, does require a credit card on file, you can end your subscription at any time.

If you read one book and decide that it’s just not the platform for you, all you have to do is cancel your membership, and you will still have paid less than what you would have if you’d purchased the book. The downside to this is that you won’t own the book after canceling.

How to Cancel Scribd

Below are the steps you can take to cancel your Scribd subscription:

  1. Log into your Scribd account
  2. Go to your Account Settings page
  3. Choose Subscription & Payment Details
  4. Click End My Subscription or Cancel Subscription
  5. Click the link to proceed with the cancellation
  6. Review the pages of confirmations you will see
  7. Wait for the confirmation message signifying that you have successful cancelled your subscription
  8. Check your email address as well to see the confirmation from Scribd

The Final Word on Scribd

Scribd is a legitimate company that is very popular and well-reviewed for the most part. Qualms do exist with the service, but those have to do mostly with unclear verbiage in their marketing that boasts the ability to read as many books as you possibly can, when in fact, throttling occurs after a few books.

Cancelling Can Be a Pain

One other complaint that seems somewhat widespread is that some users of Scribd have reported having been charged even after their canceled the service. Be sure that if you download this app or use this service, you keep a close eye on your bank statement or credit card statements in the months following your cancellation so that you don’t run into the same issues.

All in all, Scribd seems worth the $8.99/month membership. A quick search of user reviews will tell you roughly the same thing. Most customers and users are happy with the service, and it’s a great alternative if you’re a casual reader looking for an inexpensive option for reading services.

A Breakdown of Scribd: Pros and Cons

The following are the pros and cons of the Scribd service that may further help you see what you’re getting into by signing up for the service.

Pros of Scribd

  • Sleep timer for up to 2 hours
  • Highlighters, bookmarks, and notes feature
  • Magazines and other forms of media available all for one price
  • Free trial offer
  • Large library
  • Student discount available
  • Ability to post your own content
  • Access to other services
  • Can be used on up to four devices
  • Can download books to be read when offline

Cons of Scribd

  • Not supported by Kindle Paperwhite
  • Must provide financial information to access a free trial
  • Throttling after some use
  • Unsubscribing can sometimes be a hassle
  • You don’t own the books you download

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