Roses are dead for Scribd after it dumps popular romance books that cost it too much

Ebook subscription service Scribd has dumped many romance and erotica novels from its line-up because they are so popular with readers they cost the company too much.

Smashwords distributes self-published titles to Scribd and CEO Mark Coker estimates 80-90% of Smashwords’ romance and erotica titles have been dropped by Scribd, including nearly all of the distributor’s most popular romance titles.

It’s been a bad week for authors with books on subscription services after details from Amazon revealed its new pay-per-page system for Kindle Unlimited is likely to offer a very low page-read payout.

On the Scribd cull, Mark Coker says it appears that books with lower prices and higher word counts have a better chance of staying on Scribd and few books priced $3.99 and above will remain.

Scribd claims it’s not singling out self-publishers but is treating all publishers and distributors on the same criteria.

It pays the same amount for borrows as a publisher would get for an outright buy, which is a model that is obviously proving to be unsustainable for the service which costs subscribers $8.99 a month.

Since launching the subscription service two years ago, the Scribd catalog has grown from 100,000 titles to over a million.

Scribd says: ‘We’ve grown to a point where we are beginning to adjust the proportion of titles across genres to ensure that we can continue to expand the overall size and variety of our service. We will be making some adjustments, particularly to romance, and as a result some previously available titles may no longer be available.’

In January, Scribd received $22 million in financing led by Khosla Ventures with reinvestment from existing backers, which brought the company’s total funding up to $48 million. At the time, Scribd CEO Trip Adler said, “This new funding round will enable us to work towards achieving our goal of creating the most comprehensive library of the future for our millions of users around the world.”