Last November, I decided to give myself the three months to try it out using the Harlequin coupon, and, y’all, I flippin’ love this thing. As Angie pointed out in the podcast, HarperCollins and Harlequin both participate – which means that older Dorchester fantasy and science fiction romance titles are also in there, too.
Now that there’s a 3 month free trial for SBTB readers, I figured I’d write up my impressions of Scribd. My 3 month free trial has come to an end, but I’m renewing and paying the monthly fee, and I wanted to share my reasons why. So here are the six ways in which I get the most out of my Scribd subscription.
1. Backlist. Oh, holy night, Backlist.
As I mentioned HarperCollins and Harlequin are both in the Scribd borrowing library, as are many older Dorchester titles which were acquired by HarperCollins years ago. That means that in addition to authors like Sarah Morgan or Shannon Stacey or Eloisa James, there’s a lot of great fantasy and science fiction from Ye Olde Dorchester catalog, like Marjorie M. Liu and paranormal from authors like Christine Feehan or Sherrilyn Kenyon.
So my browsing habits have changed a bit as a result. There are a lot of backlist books I’ve wanted to read, and to be honest, some backlists are so big, it’s difficult to keep them all straight.
But if I think to myself, “Self, you would really enjoy a backlist Suzanne Enoch historical right about now,” well, there are plenty to choose from. FOUR PAGES of books to choose from, in fact. And I can add them to my library with 1 click, and drop them in a collection with one more. This does lead to Crap, which one do I read first? — which is a lovely problem to have.
Much like Prego, with Scribd, it’s in there.
2. What’s better than a bargain? A Scribd bargain.
When I get the daily sales newsletters and see what’s being offered for $1-3, my first step is to check Scribd. I’m always curious, for example, about a $3 cookbook. For $3, even if there’s only one recipe that I will reuse regularly, it’s worth the price.
But if that cookbook is already in the Scribd library, I’ve already paid for it. If I’m paying $9 per month, it’s well worth it for me to add discounted cookbooks to my digital library and not buy them at $1-3 each. In the long run, with my easily-tempted book buying habits, this is saving me a bit of money. I would spend way more than $9 on discounted cookbooks each month otherwise.
And it’s not just cookbooks. I now read my regular sales bulletins with my email open in one tab, and Scribd in another. If a book looks interesting, I add it to my Scribd library rather than buy it.
Here are two examples from a Book Gorilla newsletter from earlier this month:
If I’m chasing a bargain, my sequence now is to check Scribd and then my local public library’s Overdrive collection before I reflexively click and spend $1-$3 on sale books .
3. Sale books become search terms.
This is true of most retailer search engines, and not just Scribd, but sometimes when I search for a book, it’s not in the Scribd library – not often, but sometimes. However, usually I have enough of an idea of why I was searching for that book to go find something similar – and this is especially true of cookbooks, my discount kryptonite.
“365 Years of Comfort Food In Your Slow Cooker” or whatever may not be in Scribd, but “comfort food,” “slow cooker,” and similar searches yielded all sorts of ideas for my cookbook collection.
4. Business books? Nonfiction about efficiency? Organization guidebook? Efficiently organizing your business? Check, check, check, check.
My other reading addiction, aside from romance and discount cookbooks, is nonfiction about organization, efficiency, productivity, and time management. Those books, especially in digital form, can be seriously expensive. Sometimes the nonfiction ebooks are $25 or more, which, seriously, if it’s going to be that much money, it should come with free chocolate at least.
But yay! So many of the books I’ve been curious about are in Scribd, and I’ve already paid for access. And, thankfully, since many of the nonfiction about entrepreneurship and efficiency I’ve tried are really freaking terrible, I’m happy to toss them back into the Scribd pond once I’ve read a few chapters without berating myself for having spent $25 for a book that was not useful to me at all. (It’s amazing how many nonfiction business/entrepreneurship titles are so very very very male-oriented.) (Except not amazing at all.)
Scribd has audiobooks.Yes, Please! read by Amy Poehler, which is terrific.
We’ve got a car trip coming up, and I’ve built a collection of actors reading their autobiographies that Hubby and I should both like, including Martin Short reading his memoir I Must Say, based on Glen Wheldon’s recommendation in a recent Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast. And the audiobook of Shit My Dad Says should be funny enough to listen to – though I wouldn’t have paid full price for it (and maybe the kids shouldn’t be in the car with us for that one).
So for $9, you can get a library of Scribd audiobooks, which is a bit cheaper than the least expensive Audible plan, which start at more than $10 for most users. Not that I don’t love Audible – I do. I have a subscription there, too. But I’m tracking my usage to see which one I use more, because I may not need both.
And I have five more words regarding the audiobook selection at Scribd: Richard Armitage Reading Georgette Heyer.
If you only keep your Scribd subscription for the three free trial months, do yourself a very kind favor and make sure to listen to at least one of them. They’re wonderful.
6. My kids love it, too.
I have reached that age of young boyhood with the dudes in my home where they are eating all the time, outgrowing shoes every three months, and reading more than they eat. The books my sons love to read, and the audiobooks and ebooks they like are in the Scribd library, too. I set them up with their own collections, and added the app to their tablets.
So far in their collection, which they LOVE, they have The Big Nate series and the My Weird School series. Plus they like browsing the children’s audiobook collection, too. The Scribd app is easier for them to navigate than the Overdrive app, which my 9 year old can manage but baffles my 7 year old every time.Better Nate than Ever to their collection, for example.
Not everything is perfect, of course, so here are a few issues or questions I figure you might ask.
What about Kindle Unlimited?
I don’t have Unlimited Time, so Kindle Unlimited doesn’t work for me. Searching through Kindle Unlimited when so little of what I want is easy to find or even in the library in the first place was too frustrating. I wasn’t going to use my KU subscription as much as I thought, so I cancelled it shortly before the end of the free trial.
How is the Scribd reader?
It’s ok. It’s not as robust as some others, though I can set the text color scheme and size to the levels I prefer.
I do wish Scribd’s reader had an onboard dictionary. I like to look up words. No, I LOVE to look up words. It’s a thing. There’s no tap-tap dictionary within the Scribd reader, and I wish there were. But I have other methods, so it’s not unbearable.
What about your public library?
Oh, mercy, I use the hell out of my public library both in print and digitally using the Overdrive app. We’re regular patrons of our local branches, and Scribd doesn’t replace my local library at all.
But Scribd’s collection is often more in line with what I want to read, and our local library is long on literary fiction but not as much on romance, mystery and business/ entrepreneurship nonfiction. And if I do find a book in the Overdrive app, it isn’t available at my library, or has a long waitlist.
And to be honest, with HarperCollins’ 26 checkout limit on HarperCollins and Harlequin titles (SOB! SOOOOOOB!), I’d rather browse from Scribd so that someone else in our library system can borrow the metered checkout book my local library has paid for. I still harbor guilt that I borrowed two ebooks and didn’t finish them before my time was up, costing my library money for a book I didn’t read.
The question I ask myself has evolved from Do I want to spend $2? to Do I already have access to this book via Scribd or my library? I like that evolution. I am better able to gauge my interest in a book from “mild curiosity” to “MUST OWN” compulsion. And on top of that, I can evaluate whether I want to read this book RIGHT NOW RIGHT AWAY or if I want to take a look at it someday, maybe on vacation.
Between Scribd, my library, and my book budget, I can assign the book to the appropriate location. If I must own it, I buy it. If I am curious but not compelled, I check Scribd and the Overdrive Media app. If I must read it RIGHT NOW and it’s in my local library, I check it out and start reading. If I want to read it someday, and it’s in Scribd, I’ll add it to my library and put it in a collection. I probably won’t check it out of the library because if I can’t get to it right away and my checkout expires, I’ve either made someone else wait for it, or, even worse, cost my library one of a limited number of checkouts
(Hey, HarperCollins, may I please tell you how much I dislike your ebook limited check out policy and find it offensive to everyone including small dogs and chinchillas? You publish great books. Your limiting access to library patrons is a serious bummer and I wish you’d reconsider that policy.)
Can you browse Scribd? Didn’t Elyse struggle with that?
Yup, she did. And you can browse – sort of. It’s better if you know what you’re looking for when you head into the Scribd library. There are curated lists, and there are sections by genre, but I find better options for my collections when I go in looking for one thing, and start following the also-like recommendations to other books and audiobooks.
Plus the Romance page at Scribd highlights collections like….Pirate’s Booty
And, hello, I found this when I was browsing to take screencaps for this entry: some St. Martin’s romances are also in Scribd, now:
Now I want to go browse around in that section of the site and add books to my “Take a Look” collection.
So that’s how I get the most out of my Scribd collection, though I still find new ways to use it. The three months free for Smart Bitches readers is still going on, so if you’d like to try it out, you should have enough time to get a sense of whether it’s useful for you to subscribe, too.
Have you used Scribd? Are you interested in trying it? Can I answer any questions for you?