Is Scribd for Dummies?
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.
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?
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...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 7 Jul 2014
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