Ebook subscription service Scribd has gone back to ‘unlimited’ access to ebooks and audiobooks for subscribers two years after ditching its original unlimited deal and capping members at three ebooks a month plus one audiobook.
However, Scribd is warning that the new ‘unlimited’ deal will be ‘truly unlimited’ only for ‘the vast majority of subscribers’ and adds that ‘occasionally some of these most voracious readers will see a temporary reduction of the catalog for a portion of the month’.
It’s a bit like going to the endless buffet and having your plate snatched away on your third time round, or perhaps being allowed to keep your plate but having most of the food taken away.
In the FAQs on its website, Scribd says, ‘Occasionally, we have to limit the titles that you’re able to access within a specific content library in a 30-day period.’
I would imagine that means in practice that Romance readers, who are renowned for being fast flippers, won’t be able to get access to that genre after a certain number of reads a month.
In its announcement of the switch back to ‘unlimited’, Scribd says it moved to the capped model ‘because a very small group of our users were reading many, many times (sometimes 100 times) the price of their monthly membership fee’.
Scribd’s monthly subscription fee has stayed the same at $8.99 since it launched its ebook subscription service in 2013 and is actually lower than Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited’s $9.99.
If those ‘most voracious readers’ were reading 100 times the cost of their monthly fee then they would be consuming $900 worth of books a month, which is quite some going. At $9.99 list price per book that would be 90 books a month, or three books a day!
As well as ebooks and audiobooks, Scribd offers unlimited access to a selection of news, magazines and documents.
Before capping members back in 2016, Scribd had already introduced a limit of one audiobook a month after originally offering unrestricted access. It also removed many popular romance and erotica novels from its ebook selection after their popularity was costing it too much.
In May last year (2017), Scribd claimed to have over 500,000 subscribers and to be making a profit.
Self-publishers and indie authors can publish to Scribd through aggregators Draft2digital and Smashwords and should get around 60% of list price per read, which is a good deal, but it’s difficult to say if it would be worth your while in terms of quantity of sales.