Saturday, February 27, 2016

Scribd Subscription Service Review - Is It Worth It?

I've had this title saved as a draft for goodness knows how long. In a way, I'm glad I didn't write the post when I first intended to, because Scribd underwent some major changes after that. But now that I have only one week left of my free subscription (managed to get two new months, then no more), I think it's finally time to write down my thoughts.

If you haven't heard of it, Scribd is a book subscription service. It's got it's own dedicated app, and tons and tons of books. Or at least, it used to.

Since I first heard about Scribd, it underwent two major changes.

First, it greatly reduced the number of romance novels in its catalog. Since I probably read mainly non-fiction on it, it didn't really affect me.

And now, from March onwards, Scribd will be giving each customers three full reads from a best-selling catalogue, and unlimited reads from another list of books. So it's not longer a true subscription service, but more of a hybrid.

To be honest, before I heard about the second piece of news, I was very seriously considering getting a subscription for Scribd. It has quite a few non-fiction books that my library's ebook lending service doesn't, and since I'm in Japan, English books are fairly expensive. It would have been worthwhile.

But with this new change in policy, well, I probably won't. Unless the unlimited reads catalog happens to have all the books I want to read. The reason is that in that time between my two Scribd free subscription periods, I managed to get all the books I wanted via NetGalley and the library's ebook service. Everything else, I noted down to borrow in Singapore. Occasionally, I'd find something in BookOff (a second hand bookstore in Japan) or in that one occasion, when Junkudo had a sale on foreign books.

In other words, because Scribd doesn't seem like good value for money, I'll probably just stick with the free alternatives, and delay reading the books that I'd probably read straightaway otherwise. Unless say, I have to do some research and Scribd is the only place that has the book (and the book is much more expensive to buy). That's probably the only time I can see myself getting a subscription, for a little while.

I totally get why Scribd has to change its offering. It's offering full payouts to authors, which means that voracious readers like me a bleeding it dry. But as much as I want to support Scribd, it's not cost-effective for me to do so.

To double back to the question in the title: is this worth it? Well, if you're living in a place where books are expensive and scarce and you don't read much, yes, I think Scribd would be worth it for you. But if you intend to read a lot every month, the reading limit will probably annoy you. In that case, I'd stick to my annoyance-free alternatives.

If you want to try it yourself, you can get two free months by clicking on this link (and I'll get an extra month). I think if it was free, I could live with the three books thing, but it all comes down to money... (and the lack of it)


  1. A few years back I used to browse it, make a list of the books I was interested in, and then I would buy a 24 hours pass to download the books. I'd pay $4.99 for one day to download as many free books as I could :-)

    1. I would totally do that too! But I think they changed it so that when your subscription expires, you can't access the downloaded books anymore >< I remember because I tried the first time it expired and... :p no luck at all.


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