Scribd adds a 30,000-title library of audiobooks to its subscription-based catalog, at no additional cost to users.
The move is the latest expansion of Scribd’s content offering after adding more than 15,000 Harlequin ebooks, building on an existing partnership with HarperCollins, which acquired the romance publisher in May.
According to Scribd co-founder Jared Friedman, the Harlequin addition has “gone amazingly well” in its first month, beating Scribd’s expectations for the popularity of the new crop of romance titles among subscribers.
Scribd now hopes to follow that success with an ambitious foray into audiobooks, which haven’t been broadly available by subscription until recently. Kindle Unlimited, Amazon’s subscription-based ebook program, which launched this summer, offers only about 2,500 audiobooks. (Amazon’s Audible service, which offers over 150,000 titles, is not available by subscription.) A start-up called Skybrite rolled out its own subscription audiobook platform just this week.
One reason Friedman says the audiobook market is small relative to ebooks, and just getting started within the subscription model, is the high barrier to entry.
But Scribd sees its established base of ebook readers as a natural audience for its audiobooks.
Being able to switch between an audiobook of an ebook version of the same title has been one of subscribers’ “top feature requests” since the service’s launch, says Friedman. For a while, it was difficult to deliver. For one thing, the publisher that owns the audio rights to a given title is often different than the one that publishes the ebook. But Scribd has taken steps to obscure that messy reality for users wherever possible, matching up every audiobook with a corresponding ebook whenever both versions of a given title are available in its catalog.
Scribd is aiming to promote “crossover usage,” encouraging precisely that behavior–a seamless user experience in which flipping back and forth between reading and listening becomes a natural way of consuming content on its platform. Doing so is essentially a matter of hitting a “play” button on an ebook.
Other features include skip buttons that let listeners jump back or ahead thirty seconds; a speed-change function that speeds up or slows down the rate at which a narrator speaks; audio bookmarks; and instant streaming, as opposed to having to download each title in order to listen to it.
Every publisher participating in Scribd’s audiobook program has provided its entire front-list. While those initial 30,000 titles pales in comparison with the more than 500,000 titles in Scribd’s ebook catalog, Friedman points out that they represent a larger percentage of the much smaller audiobook market. Scribd intends to keep adding titles to its catalog in the months ahead.
The relative quantities and thresholds at which listeners trigger payouts to publishers on Scribd varies by publisher, genre and length of audiobook, among other factors.
SCRIBD ADDS 30,000 AUDIOBOOKS TO ITS LIBRARY, CREATING THE LARGEST UNLIMITED BOOK OFFERING FROM WORLD’S TOP PUBLISHERS
Subscribers Can Enjoy Unlimited Access to Audiobooks from Colm Tóibín, Cormac McCarthy, Eckhart Tolle, Haruki Murakami, Suzanne Collins & More, All for $8.99 per Month
SAN FRANCISCO, November 6, 2014 — Scribd, the leading subscription book service, today announced that it is broadening its offering to give subscribers access to more than 30,000 audiobooks. Titles will include new releases, as well as smash hits and award winners like The Hunger Games trilogy, The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño, and Daring Greatly by Brené Brown, all for Scribd’s current price of $8.99 per month. The addition of this extensive audiobooks selection, which includes titles from Blackstone, HarperCollins, Scholastic and Naxos, to Scribd’s existing library of more than half a million e-books represents the largest unlimited-access offering of e-books and audiobooks available today.
“We’ve always envisioned Scribd as a home for the best writing and storytelling in the world,” said Trip Adler, co-founder and CEO of Scribd. “Audiobooks are more than a $1B a year industry and they are a natural extension of Scribd’s existing content offering. This has been one of our most popular requests and we’re excited to reach book lovers wherever they are and however they choose to read – or listen.”
“We are thrilled to work with Scribd on an audiobook offering,” said Chantal Restivo-Alessi, Chief Digital Officer, HarperCollins Publishers. “Audio is a growing category and one that needs additional distribution channels. By making our audiobooks available through Scribd, we’re opening up a much wider market for our authors’ works.”
Listeners can browse special audio-only collections curated by Scribd’s editorial staff, including collections arranged by length, narrator, and subject, from “Shakespearean Actors Reading Shakespeare” to “Roadtrip Listening: SF to LA,” to “What to Listen to on the Way to a Job Interview.”
● Landmark works by contemporary authors – Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami, No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy, The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño, The Game by A.S. Byatt, Europe Central by William T. Vollmann, Mothers and Sons by Colm Tóibín, Shadow Country by Peter Matthiessen, and more.
● Beloved actors reading children’s classics – James Earl Jones reads Who’s In Rabbit’s House?, Paul Giamatti reads The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, Meryl Streep reads Chrysanthemum, Sarah Jessica Parker reads Owen, and more.
● Star-studded full-cast recordings of classics – Contemporary actors including Damien Lewis & Joseph Fiennes appear in full-cast recordings of Shakespeare; Forest Whitaker, Eartha Kitt, Angela Bassett, and Denzel Washington appear in full-cast recordings of the Bible.
● Golden Age Radio Dramas – Science fiction classics such as the Bradbury Thirteen and The Twilight Zone recall the Golden Age of radio dramas with full cast recordings, soundtracks, and sound effects.
● Self-Improvement titles by world-renowned authors – The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, Daring Greatly by Brené Brown, The Architecture of Happiness by Alain de Botton, and more.
● Novels that inspired blockbuster films – Recordings of the novels that inspired blockbuster films, such as Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick, Catch Me If You Can by Frank W. Abagnale, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and The Graduate by Charles Webb.
● Beloved narrators – Audiophiles’ favorite narrators such as Jim Dale, Simon Vance, and Katherine Kellgren.
● Critically acclaimed and award-winning recordings – Grammy & Audie Award Winners, ALSC Notable Children’s Recordings, Publishers Weekly Listen-Up Award Winners, and more.
● Titles from the world’s leading audiobooks publishers – Blackstone, HarperCollins, Scholastic, Naxos, and more.
Scribd is partnering with Findaway World, a leading provider of digital audiobooks and technology solutions, to power its audiobook offering. Findaway World’s AudioEngine platform enables access to the catalog of more than 30,000 unlimited subscription audiobooks to Scribd users worldwide. Audiobooks are available now to subscribers on Android, Kindle Fire, Nook tablets, and web enabled browsers. Audiobooks will be available to iOS users in the coming days.
Scribd is the premier subscription book service with more than half a million e-books and audiobooks, including New York Times bestsellers, Pulitzer Prize winners, and reader favorites across every genre. Available in nearly every country and 80 languages via iOS, Android, Kindle Fire, Nook tablets and the web, Scribd also features more than 60 million written works contributed by users around the world. Launched in 2007 by Trip Adler and Jared Friedman and backed by Y Combinator, Charles River Ventures, and Redpoint Ventures, Scribd is one of the most influential websites in the world, reaching more than 80 million active readers every month.