Is Scribd for Dummies?

Category: Reference

Publisher John Wiley & Sons is making its inexplicably popular “For Dummies” series of how-to books available through Scribd, which is a good reason to answer the questions, “What the heck is Scribd?” and “Will it make me smarter?” Read on for answers!

What is Scribd?

For people who like to eat a lot, there's the local buffet. For people with an insatiable appetite for videos, there’s Netflix. And for voracious readers, there’s Scribd. All of them are pay-one-price, all-you-can-eat repositories of their respective contents. Netflix and Scribd charge a monthly fee, but the owner of the buffet is likely to kick you out at closing time.

You probably know how the buffet line and the Netflix queue operate, so let's focus on Scribd. Membership at Scribd costs $8.99 per month after a one-month free trial. It provides access to a library of over 400,000 books from more than 900 publishers, including HarperCollins, RosettaBooks, Workman, and now Wiley.

Scribd for Dummies?

Much of Scribd’s library is non-fiction, like the “Dummies” series claims to be. But you’ll also find New York Times best-selling novels including a few works by luminaries like Stephen King, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Paolo Coehlo, and Meg Cabot.

Make no mistake: Scribd is not a comprehensive library of every title ever published. There are lots of holes in the catalog. In size, it pales in comparison to Amazon's 30+ million titles, but some readers may prefer a monthly fee to a pay-per-book pricing model. If you read more than 1 or 2 books a month, Scribd may be cheaper than Amazon's Kindle ebook titles. Scribd claims over 80 million unique readers per month, an audience that’s pretty attractive to authors and publishers.

Even though readers pay a flat monthly fee for all they can read, each time a Scribd ebook is read the publisher is paid just as if a copy of an ebook was sold. Authors get paid according to their contracts with publishers.

What's Available at Scribd?

Psssst! There are TONS of free books available on the Internet. See my article Where to Find Free eBooks for links to millions of free books. You'll find everything from dusty old classics to more modern titles from popular authors.

Scribd curates its library, organizing books by genre, author, topic, popularity, etc. Subscribing readers get suggestions based upon their reading habits, and personal “bookshelves” where they can curate their own favorites and tag titles for later reading.

As I mentioned, the Scribd catalog now includes over 1000 of the "For Dummies" books, so you can learn about Auto Repair, Beekeeping, Calculus, Dog Training, Excel, and about 995 other topics. Setting aside the insulting nomenclature, most of the Dummies books are written by topical experts who do their best to explain the subject matter in simple terms.

Scribd also offers a Web development toolkit that lets Webmasters embed Scribd content in Web pages. The ebook file format is iPaper, which is similar to PDF but designed specifically for displaying content on the Web. It has been based on Flash technology but Scribd is aggressively migrating all of its content to HTML5, which tends to be more widely available, especially on mobile devices.

In addition to reading on your desktop or laptop, mobile reading apps are available for iOS (iPhone/iPad), Android, Kindle Fire, and any Web browser. Books are synced automatically so you can pick up reading right where you left off, on any device with the Scribd reader installed.

You can even download books to read offline… and that has caused some hard feelings.

Early in its history, which began in 2007, Scribd’s copyright management system was weak, to say the least. Many authors complained that copies of their works were uploaded and sold on the site without their permission, and that Scribd did little or nothing in response to their complaints. The company seems to have tightened up its safeguards for authors (and itself) in recent years.

Scribd isn’t Amazon, or even Barnes & Noble. But it is a force to be reckoned with in the e-publishing world. For less than the price of a recent paperback novel, a bibliophile can gorge on books all month long.

Will you try Scribd? Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Is Scribd for Dummies?"

Posted by:

SL Shaver
07 Jul 2014

nope, not jumping on the Scribd train. I can check out almost any Kindle/eBook i want free from my county library system, including audio books and current best sellers (after a short wait time). tons of classics are available free, and websites like Project Gutenberg and make paying for ebooks a little silly.

Posted by:

07 Jul 2014

I will try scribd. Thank you for the information and keep up the great work.

Posted by:

07 Jul 2014

Probably wouldn't go for this. If it had more fiction and sci fi I might pay 5.99

Posted by:

Quinn Eurich
07 Jul 2014

SCRIBD is great! Not only do they do Wiley, but they now also have an agreement with Simon & Schuster.

A lot of the Amazon books that let you "Look Inside" limit you to the number of pages you can read. It's not possible to get the flavor of an author just from the first few pages.

SCRIBD is a good place to check out subjects, titles and authors you might be interested in, but don't want to commit to.

I love that SCRIBD has a lot of my favorite authors. It's great to be able to re-read them, whenever I want. Were I to purchase Nook or Kindle copies to replace the falling apart paperbacks, I'd have spent more on them than I would on SCRIBD for a year!

As you can tell, I'm a fan and highly recommend them!

Posted by:

07 Jul 2014

I tried Scribd for a few months and enjoyed it to some minor degree. If you're a voracious reader it might be worth the $9 bucks a month, but I found a couple of TOTALLY FREE sites that offered a wide variety of writers and genres that better fit my reading profile.

Posted by:

07 Jul 2014

I agree with SL Shaver. I can get almost any book from my local library. With interlibrary loans I can probably access many more titles than SCRIBD can offer. I might have to wait a while for a recent best seller, but who really needs to be in a hurry to read a new fiction best seller, and there is usually a very short wait for any reference title.

Posted by:

Tom Thumb
07 Jul 2014

Interestingly, I recently tried Scribed. I was motivated to signup because of an email referencing the Dummies series.
At the time I was looking for a Java for dummies book. This book was not free with subscription but was available for purchase.
Due to the misleading email I cancelled my subscription and found a different text on Java elsewhere.
It also makes me wonder how many Wiley titles are available which do not require additional funds.

Posted by:

ed martin
07 Jul 2014

has anyone yet tried 'Ventriloquism for Dummies'?

Posted by:

07 Jul 2014

I have used Scribed for about 6 months. The site is not always easy to use, but after some wandering around and help from the website, I'm much more familiar with it. Sometimes I enjoy it, sometimes not. I was sick and stuck at home for about two weeks and used it extensively. The titles may not always be current, but there is a wide variety and I have found several new authors that I wouldn't have known about otherwise. I use Kindle, also, but hate that you have to pay for the subsequent titles when you find an author you like. If I bought everything that I liked on Kindle, I would be broke quickly! I go back and forth between the two services and can usually find something to read!! I also use my public library, but only for "real" reading matterial that I can actually touch!!

Posted by:

Darcetha Manning
07 Jul 2014

I probably would not use SCRIBD. I'll just use my local library or go to Walmart or Books A Million.

Posted by:

07 Jul 2014

I have been an avid reader, for decades! However, in the past recent years, it really is hard for me to read the paper back books that, I loved to read. I have my own beloved genre, in books, as well ... Historical Romance, Time Travel Romance and some Fantasy Romance. Yes, I know ... I seem to really like the "light" books, in my reading selection.

Now, I have and do read many Non-fiction books, like the Dummies series (had about 10 different Dummies Books, at one time), as well as Non-Fiction Historical books. My love of history, goes back to my childhood days. I personally think, we honestly need to know where we have come from ... To not make the same mistakes that, were made throughout history.

Now, I am a fan of Amazon/Kindle. I have read several books, on my computer, with my BIG screen monitor, where I can honestly read, what was written! I have purchased several $.99 books, that have been a great pleasure to me. I don't buy every month, so, Amazon/Kindle works fine for me.

In fact, when I could read the paper back novels, I frequently, purchased my books, from Amazon. They had the best prices, overall. Mind you, this was back in the late 1990's, when I was first told about Amazon and all of the great deals, they had. Plus, when looking up books on Amazon, I could find a lot of books that, I could NOT find in the retail stores.

Bottom line ... Amazon works for me, as far as my reading goes and I LOVE that I can now, read on my computer, with my BIG screened monitor!!!

Posted by:

09 Jul 2014

Thanks to Bob for this interesting article!
However, I also will not be trying Scribd....there are so many free places, why would you want to pay? My favorites are the public library,,,, and there is always where you can find anything on the subject of books!

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