Escapists Uncensored: Scribd…is it worth it?

Escapists UncensoredI’m sure many of you have heard about websites and companies that claim to be the Netflix of games, magazines, etc. Well, now there’s one for books. Well ok, there’s a few but the one I wanted to check out was Scribd. At Scribd you pay $8.99 a month to gain an all access pass to over 500,00 books and 30,000 audiobooks. Seems like a great idea right? But is it really? I started Scribd 3 months ago (with one month free as a trial) to really get a feel for it and to see if I would use it after the novelty wore off.

The first thing I found is that Scribd has been around for a while. The past couple of years are the first (that I’ve found) it has really been a legitimate place to find books to download. Before, Scribd was a file sharing website focused more on books and documents than music and videos – and yep, most of those documents were pirated copies of books. So, basically, illegal. Scribd has been working on changing this but if a copyright book does show up it is still the responsibility of the author to send Scribd a “takedown” notice.

DMCA Copyright Infringement Takedown Notification
If you are a copyright owner or an agent thereof, and you believe that any content hosted on our web site ( infringes your copyrights, then you may submit a notification pursuant to the DMCA by providing Scribd‘s Designated Copyright Agent with the following information in writing or via email(please consult your legal counsel or see 17 U.S.C. Section 512(c)(3) to confirm these requirements)

The good news is that I’ve searched for some pretty popular books and have only found legitimate copies or links on where to buy the books if it is not available through Scribd. Do pirated copies still exist? Probably, but I couldn’t find many. And those I did find where taken down within a week. Not a bad turn around. Not perfect but at least Scribd seems to be trying.

scribdNow for the important part. What books are available? A lot! Some are mainstream books and popular authors like Neil Gaiman and Kim Harrison. Sometimes you get lucky and the entire backlist of books by the author is there (like Neil Gaiman and Kim Harrison). Sometimes, not so much. Ilona Andrews only has her short stories listed and Nalini Singh only her Harlequin collection, and not the complete collection at that. A lot of that has to due with publishers if I’m not mistaken.

Scribd has a ton of books that I would have never even heard about if I hadn’t been on Scribd. For the first month that is what kept me logging on and downloading books. However,  a month after reading some decent books and some absolutely horrible books, I wanted to read GOOD books. Books I hadn’t read yet – new books. New books are added kind of like movies are added on Netflix; after they aren’t ‘new’ anymore. Still when I’m out of things to read Scribd does a decent job of filling in my reading list.

Now for a quick overview on things I like and things I don’t!

Things I like: I love how their library is set up. Everything is separated into different genres but books are cross listed when they fall into more than one. Adding to your library is also super easy. Plus their personalized recommendations are so much better than what you usually find on other websites (think Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, etc). Oh! There app is amazing! Probably one of my favorite apps for reading that I use. Everything is set up to be user friendly and it’s just pretty. I love how Scribd has books check-marked to let you know if you already have it in your library.

Things I do NOT like: The search engine really needs to be improved. I want to be able to just click ‘author’, search for the author and find the author. Instead of just searching an author and then my search results being filled with books by authors who have similar names or books with titles similar to the author’s name. Very annoying. I also wish I understood how the authors’ get paid for the books I’m reading. I don’t understand it at all and can’t find anything on the Scribd website that explains it.

oysterI don’t use Scribd as much as I did the first month. Breaking down the past two months into numbers, I’ve read on average 5 books a month. Going back and pricing those books on Amazon and Barnes & Noble shows that I have been getting my $8.99 worth. And if I start listening to the audiobooks available, I know I’ll me getting my money’s worth. So for now I’m going to keep Scribd. I will be checking out Oyster for a month soon to see if I like it better.

Have you had any experience with Scribd or Oyster?
Do you understand how the authors’ are getting paid?
If you’re an author – do you like Scribd or Oyster? Do you think it’s fair to authors?

About Courtney 33 Articles
I teach Special Education and have three demented dogs. Between my students all day and my dogs all night my stress relief is reading. It is the only thing that keeps me from going crazy. Or should I say from going crazier? I read anything but I prefer fantasy, sci-fi and steampunk. I also love urban fantasy and historical romances. If it has dragons and magic, vampires and werewolves, crazy machines and corsets or aliens and spaceships then I’m happy. Mix in a Scotland laird or two every once in a while and I’m ecstatic!

1 Comment

  1. I’ve heard of both Scribd and Oyster but don’t use either of them. My problem is that I don’t think I would be able to read the books on my Kindle and don’t particularly want to read on my phone. So at the moment I have Kindle Unlimited which is okay but to be honest there aren’t that many books I want; it’s more for my sister. As for how the authors are being paid I have no clue at all. Great post :)
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