Penguin Random House may be keeping its ebooks out of the subscription market, but not its audiobooks.
One week after partnering with Oyster on its newly launched ebookstore—but not on its subscription platform—the world’s biggest trade publisher brings more than 9,000 digital audiobook titles to Oyster’s competitor in the subscription ebook space, Scribd. (Oyster does not offer audiobooks and says it has no plans to add them.)
The deal includes new releases by some of Penguin Random House’s best-selling authors and brings Scribd’s audiobook catalog to over 45,000 titles.
Penguin Random House sees the Scribd deal as a continuation of its distribution model for the format, pointing out that its digital audiobooks have been long available for subscription through other channels like Audible and Audiobooks.com. But as in the Oyster partnership, the move significantly increases the proximity of its content, particularly from a user’s standpoint, with a subscription-based ebook offering.
Scribd, whose library is available to subscribers for $8.99 a month—less than Oyster’s $9.95 monthly rate—added audiobooks in November 2014, beginning with around 30,000 titles, followed by digital comics in February this year. Its total catalog stands at more than 1 million titles across those three formats. Earlier this month Oyster estimated its own library at “several hundred thousand” past the 1 million–title threshold.
Scribd has said that a key goal for its audiobook category is to drive “crossover usage,” encouraging ebook readers to sample audio titles and vice versa.
Since adding audiobooks, Scribd says total reading time on the platform has doubled, which according to co-founder and CTO Jared Friedman indicates that “audiobook listening as an activity is helping to fuel overall ebook reading.”
Andrew Weinstein, VP of Content Acquisition at Scribd, told Digital Book World 2015 attendees in January that about three-quarters of its users exclusively read ebooks—a figure Scribd says has held steady since then.
The platform’s audiobook listeners, on the other hand, are a much more omnivorous crowd. Among those “signing up primarily to listen to audiobooks,” Friedman says, “we see that the majority of them”—about 84% to date—”also do read ebooks.”
Scribd says four genres have so far proved “substantially more popular in audiobooks than in ebooks”: children’s, business, religion and self-help titles.
The company also finds that “men are much more likely to listen to nonfiction books, particularly self-help and business books [while] women are more likely to listen to fiction, particularly YA and mystery,” according to a Scribd spokesperson.
SCRIBD ADDS PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE AUDIO TITLES TO ITS LIBRARY
Subscribers Gain Unlimited Access to +9,000 Titles from Elizabeth Gilbert, Stieg Larsson, Gillian Flynn, Junot Díaz, John Grisham, Lena Dunham, and more.
SAN FRANCISCO, April 16, 2015 — Scribd, the leading subscription reading service, today announced that it is expanding its audiobook offering to include more than 9,000 audiobooks from Penguin Random House Audio, increasing Scribd’s audiobook selection to more than 45,000 titles. New titles include fiction and non-fiction by internationally renowned authors such as Alice Munro, Lee Child, Harlan Coben, Anne Rice, Sue Grafton, Deepak Chopra, Danielle Steele and more. Scribd is the only unlimited subscription service to include unlimited access to more than one million e-books, audiobooks, and comics, all for $8.99 per month.
The deal brings Penguin Random House Audio’s titles to Scribd, including bestsellers such as The Girl on the Train, Fifty Shades of Grey, Gone Girl, Wild, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and A Game of Thrones; award-winning recordings such as Bill Clinton’s My Life narrated by the former president, John Grisham’s Runaway Jury narrated by Michael Beck, Kathryn Stockett’s The Help narrated by Jenna Lamia, Octavia Spencer, Bahni Turpin, and Cassandra Campbell; and renowned narrators including Christopher Plummer, Diane Keaton, Barbara Walters, Kate Winslet, and more.
“Penguin Random House Audio is one of the world’s most admired publishers, and we are excited to work with them to expand the potential audience for audiobooks by putting thousands of their amazing titles at readers’ fingertips,” said Trip Adler, co-founder and CEO of Scribd. “Since we launched audiobooks last fall, reading time on Scribd has doubled. This is great news for Scribd and for our publishing partners.”
To celebrate the addition of Penguin Random House Audio, Scribd’s editorial staff has created dozens of new collections to highlight key titles.
● Political Heavyweights Read Their Memoirs, featuring: My Life by Bill Clinton; Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama; 41 by George W. Bush; A Journey by Tony Blair; Faith of My Fathers by John McCain; My American Journey by Colin Powell; and more
● Beloved Children’s and YA titles, featuring: Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume; A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle; The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman; The Maze Runner by James Dasher; and more￼￼
● Blockbuster Listening, featuring: Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James; Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand; The Book Thief by Markus Zusak; The Blind Side by Michael Lewis; Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding; Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert; Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn; The Help by Kathryn Stockett; Up in the Air by Walter Kirn; Precious by Sapphire; The Wolf of Wall Street by Jordan Belfort; and more
● Sports Memoirs, featuring: Shooting Stars by LeBron James; The Last Season by Phil Jackson; The Winning Spirit by Joe Montana; Fair Ball by Bob Costas; and more
● Slicing & Dicing: Chefs’ Memoirs to Listen to While You Cook – Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson; Sous Chef by Michael Gibney; Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking by Anya Von Bremzen; and more
Scribd continues to partner with Findaway, a leading provider of digital audiobooks and technology solutions, to power its audiobook offering. Scribd audiobooks, in addition to e-books and comics, are available now to subscribers on iOS, Android, Kindle Fire, Nook tablets, and webenabled browsers. To enjoy Penguin Random House audiobooks on Scribd visit www.scribd.com/penguin-random-house.
Scribd is the premier subscription book service with more than a million e-books, audiobooks and comics including New York Times bestsellers, Pulitzer Prize winners and reader favorites across every genre. Launched in 2007 by founders Trip Adler and Jared Friedman and backed by Y Combinator, Charles River Ventures, Redpoint Ventures and Khosla Ventures, Scribd is one of the most influential websites in the world. It is available in nearly every country, featuring 62MM documents in +80 languages.
For more information, please visit www.scribd.com.