In researching teaching practice and methodology, education systems including alternative systems and contrary opinion, I’ve been reading a lot of books.
Having a background as a professional researcher, I’ve been sourcing books from multiple channels, including Amazon.com (primarily Kindle), inter-library loans, and a service I want to introduce you to today, Scribd.
Scribd is a subscription-based ‘all-you-can eat’ buffet of digital books, audiobooks, magazine and newspaper articles, and other documents; You can read or listen to that content on your computer, or any mobile device.
What I like about Scribd
I think there are a lot of things to like about Scribd.
First, Scribd has a large catalog of books. While the choice is nowhere near as large as that of Amazon.com, it is still very good. I’m surprised at how many books (including those published by niche publishing houses) I’m finding that I can read on Scribd. I could not read many of these books for free as a part of Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited.
Second, included in the subscription price is access to an ‘unlimited’ amount of audiobooks. Again, the catalog of audiobooks is nothing like that of the industry leader Audible.com, but it is not unsubstantial. There are a lot of very popular audiobooks (including new releases) that you can listen to on Scribd, for free.
Then there’s the other free stuff.
There’s a huge catalogue of ‘documents’ uploaded by other users. They’re a mix of personal documents people want to share, and pirated books. You can download many of those documents in PDF, Microsoft PowerPoint or simple text file format.
There’s also articles from magazines and sheet music, neither of which I’ve really explored.
Another bonus for subscribers is free access to a number of other services, like Mubi. Mubi is is a rolling catalog of movies and documentaries (a different movie each day, which you can view for up to 30 days). Again, most of these third party services are bonuses, and they might not interest the majority of subscribers.
Next, Scribd it’s affordable. The subscription for Scribd is $8.99/month, for which you can read an ‘unlimited’ number of books and listen to an ‘unlimited’ number of audiobooks. You get a discount for paying upfront for a year, and sometimes they have sales or promotions. I guess the best part of this is that it really only takes reading one or two books here for free (that you would otherwise have paid for), to make the subscription worthwhile.
Lastly, Scribd has an app that you can use to read books or listen to audiobooks on the go. You can even read content on your mobile device whilst offline. Otherwise the app has all of the usual features you’d expect from an app of this kind, including bookmarks, multi-speed playback of audiobooks, and so on. Updates are made to the app every two weeks.
What I don’t like about Scribd
Honestly, there isn’t much I don’t like about Scribd. The one thing that is a minor annoyance is that Scribd rotates the availability of some of the audiobooks. This means that some audiobooks will be unavailable to you at any given time.
What I did notice was that some of the books I’d expressed interest in (by clicking on them a few times, and adding them to my saved items list) became suddenly unavailable after a short time. Their next availability date was (conveniently) after my next monthly subscription payment was due. However, when I viewed that book through a private browser window (where I wasn’t logged in or being tracked) that title was available to other subscribers. To me, that’s not such a good thing. However, its also not a deal breaker. I expect that the majority of titles in the catalogue are available at any time. Certainly, when I search for audiobooks, it rarely says ‘Not available. Available on…’.
Overall, I’ve found the Scribd service to be really useful. I’ve been able to read lots of books on education, training, and other areas of interest. There are also lots of popular children’s books that are on the service. (Added to that, a few are in the audiobook format, so I’ve been able to listen to the style the narrator uses to read the story.)
While it would be fantastic if Scribd had all of the books I wanted to read, I appreciate that’s never going to happen. Scribd has a large enough catalogue of books and audiobooks to keep me satisfied, and its possible to cancel or pause the subscription at any time. That’s really useful if I know I’m going to have an extended period of time where I’m too busy to consume this kind of content.
One of the major benefits to me is that I’ve been able to access a lot of books that I might otherwise have paid for. Its also given me the opportunity to browse a lot of books, just as I could if I were in a library. I use that technique to get an overview of the field I’m interested in and ideas for other books I might be interested in reading. Again, I wouldn’t have been able to do this at Amazon.com or most other bookseller websites.
If you’re interested in trying the Scribd service out, using my Scribd promo coupon code, you can get 2 months of access to the service for free! That’s more than enough time to decide if its going to work for your needs.