What is Scribd?

Category: File-Sharing

Scribd is a type of a social networking website that allows you to publish all kinds of documents and images to the web. It's great for people who have something to share with the world but don't have a website, technical skills or the patience to publish things in the traditional way. Here's how it works...

Scribd and iPaper - online document sharing

Share Your Documents With Scribd

Creating a membership on Scribd is free and uploading your own works is easy. After you create an account you are given four different options for uploading your document. You can type in the url of a page that is already published on an existing website (as long as you have the rights to it), upload it directly from your hard drive, copy and paste your text, or if you have a number of works, use the desktop upload tool to publish multiple files at once.

Scribd is not only a creative outlet for the general public, but it is also a valuable resource for business owners, webmasters, students, teachers, researchers and politicians. You can find information at Scribd on a wide variety of topics, including business, health, hobbies, humor, law, medicine, pets, religion, science, technology and travel. Scribd claims to have over 17 billion words in their library, five times more than Wikipedia.

iPaper is Really Cool

Here's what I think is really cool about Scribd. It uses a technology called iPaper which is powered by Adobe Flash. So documents can be easily embedded on web pages much like videos from YouTube. If you have a Word document, an Excel spreadsheet, a PowerPoint presentation, or a document created in PDF, RTF, TIFF or PostScript format, you can upload it to Scribd with a few clicks, and then embed it right into a web page or blog. You don't need a web hosting account, you don't have to understand FTP file transfer, and the people who want to view your document won't have to install any special software or download a browser plugin.

There's no need to launch an external viewer (such as Adobe Acrobat or Word) to view or interact with the document. iPaper opens directly in your browser and is user friendly with features that include the ability to zoom in and out, share interesting works with others, throw a positive vote if you like it (or flag it if it is offensive), download it to your PC and search through any particular document.

If other people think your document is noteworthy, they can grab a snippet of code and embed it in their own web page. So if you have something great on the Scribd site, there's a good chance it will spread in a viral manner across the web. Here is what an embedded Scribd document looks like:

You Decide Who Can View Your Document

Another great thing about Scribd is its privacy options. You can share your documents and images with the entire world if you want to, or you can invite specific members only to securely view your files. The privacy option can be set for all of your documents or just for particular ones and you can change the settings at any time. You can also remove your content entirely from the web whenever you choose, so it's not a lifelong commitment.

A minor downside to Scribd is that is somewhat disorganized and difficult to navigate through the thousands of documents. But if you like to leisurely browse through a variety of different categories then it offers no problem. Scribd has the usual categories like health, culture, pets, sports, tutorials, etc., and also has categories for "most viewed", "most discussed", "most liked", "what's hot" and "most recent".

You can also search the site which makes it a little easier to find what you're looking for but there's still a lot of stuff to sift through. Published documents are quickly indexed by the major search engines such as Google and Yahoo, which means that whatever you publish on Scribd is likely to show up in search engine results much faster than the majority of smaller websites that can take days to be indexed and appear in search results.

In addition to publishing with iPaper, Scribd is also a social networking site. It has a large community base of members and loyal readers. Members can create personal profiles which appear next to all of their documents, can designate friends, join or start a special interest group, have discussions and leave comments on other people's documents. Scribd has a messaging system to let you send private emails to other members and also notifies you about any activity concerning your documents such as when someone comments on one of your documents or invites you to be a friend.

There are some other submission sites on the web that are free to use such as EzineArticles and
Associated Content but these are more geared to writers who want to gain recognition and get links for SEO benefit. Uploading your articles is a little more involved, as it requires you to fill out a form and go through an editorial review process. They're also text-based, whereas with Scribd you can publish anything in any format directly from your word processor or image files.

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Most recent comments on "What is Scribd?"

Posted by:

04 Nov 2010

Hi Bob,Thanks for the excellent article explaining Scribd. I had heard about it, and some people were really liking it. Your post made it clear why it truly is a neat option for sharing. Best regards, Jayne Kopp

Posted by:

17 Mar 2014

I guess I'm too late. The service now costs $8.99 per month to read an unlimited number of books.

Posted by:

12 Apr 2022

I have a scribd subscription and will often download pdf document versions of books to my adobe acrobat so I can use my text to speech feature on my iPhone. Is this illegal/copyright infringement type of thing? I’ve all of a sudden been booted off my Wi-Fi and when I go to sign back on there’s a long legal numbing jumbo terms of service agreement that pops up requiring me to agree to all kinds of things I don’t understand and now am worried that say a book by Carl G Jung that I downloaded into adobe is against the law? Thanks so much.

EDITOR'S NOTE: You should contact your service provider and ask for an explanation. Seems likely unrelated to your Scribd issue.

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