Scribd Announces Major Changes to Subscription Service

ScribdScribd today announced major changes to its subscription service.

As part of the re-structured service, all Scribd users will receive unlimited access to “Scribd Select” books and audiobooks, a rotating collection spread across a variety of genres. In addition, all users will have access to three books and one audiobook of their choice each month from the entire Scribd catalog. Titles from Scribd Selects do not count toward the user-chosen titles.

The monthly fee will remain $8.99, and the changes will go into effect sometime in mid-March.

The announcement comes on the heels of two changes to its service Scribd made last year. In June, the company reduced the amount of romance books it offered, and in August it eliminated the unlimited audiobook component of its service and instead transitioned to a credit system, disincentivizing so-called “power readers” from listening to a disproportionate amount of audiobooks each month.

The changes help Scribd strike a careful balance, allowing the company to maintain a sustainable business model while also re-integrating a modified version of unlimited audiobook listening into its service.

“This gets us into a really good, long-term, sustainable spot,” said Trip Adler, co-founder and CEO. “It allows us to have more high-quality, expensive titles, and it allows us to balance the needs of our ‘typical’ Scribd reader who reads one, maybe two books per month, with the power readers who read 10 or 100 books per month.”

All Scribd users still receive unlimited access to sheet music and documents.

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52 thoughts on “Scribd Announces Major Changes to Subscription Service

  1. Bubblexo

    Well this sucks.

    I often go months without using Scribd, but when I do (when I have a decent stretch of free time), I’ll go through 5-6 books in the space of a month. I guess I’m in a small enough minority that management can afford to disregard users like me. Disappointed.

    1. Nicole

      I use it in much the same way. Apparently you get three credits per month and if you don’t use them they do roll over, just like the audiobook credits do now. Phew!

    2. Angela Linton

      Three books a month – are they serious? I can easily get through 3 books a week never mind a month. Not happy at all that since I upgraded my scribd app some of the books I am curently reading have disappeared off my reader (Sometimes I have several books on the go at once). Not a happy bunny!

    3. Ethan W

      Kudos. I mean, there should at least be an “option” – to upgrade account status. It’s turning into a Wild Wild West narrative: You get what you’ve got, and that’s all you’re gettin’.


  2. batwings

    Goodbye Scribd. Three books to read a month… what a disappointment. I have just cancelled my subscription. I will hopefully find a better alternative than Scribd.

  3. lucy

    So this plan is only sustainable if people keep subscribing after these changes. I bet that doesn’t happen. I know I won’t.

  4. Julie Whiteley

    Wow, I had just started using this service. Now, I suppose I will wait to see what their ‘select’ books will be. I wanted to read through some series, but if they rotate them out each month that may not be possible. This is terrible news. I’ll stick with it to see how the changes effect my habits, but it doesn’t sound promising. I would rather pay a higher monthly fee than give up the unlimited options. Bummer. Looks like I’m back to waiting on library holds again.

    1. bluebellrose

      depending on what you normally read, it’s not worth it. Heck one of their partnered publishers at this point actually is cheaper than scribd themselves with their new model

    2. Ethan W

      Right?! I’d pay $20 per month if need be. Scribd – they think that this is going to “help the company.” Yeah, right… It’s as if they took a giant leap back in time: I wonder if Trump had anything to do with establishing the invisible, yet omnipresent – wall of linguistic oppression. – Thank you, Scribd – The World’s gonna abandon you like a sunken ship.

  5. rufe

    its fsirly obvious where this is going.
    the least popular / least profitable books will always be free….the others wont.

    not good at all

    1. Nirmala

      Another possibility is that the publishers will pay something to be included in the unlimited select category, or agree to receive less payment for those books. That way the publishers will be able to promote books they want to give more visibility to. So the unlimited books may not always be the least popular ones.

  6. ambir

    What I liked about Scribd was the ability to use reference books and learn something about a subject browsing different books. I also read about 5/6 fiction books a month. For the same price I can get enough cheap Kindle books to keep me happy but I will miss the reference books. I’d rather they had an option for an unlimited subscription, more expensive but with unlimited features at least for books, I would pay more for that.

  7. Paul

    I’ve been a member since 2014, but doubt I will continue. I’ve loved it, but to go from unlimited to 3 is just way too much of a drop. Why not at least offer some alternative subscription levels for those who need more. You could maybe even sell credit packs such as 9 credits for $25.

    To just make such an announcement and offer no alternatives isn’t customer-focused is it? Us long term customer need a little TLC not just a ‘this is how it is going to be from now on’ kind of announcement.

    So sad 🙁

  8. David Prentiss

    I think people should go back and re-read the first paragraph where it states – “all Scribd users will receive unlimited access to “Scribd Select” books”. I would guess that the books that will be placed on the three per month list will be mostly new releases and books from publishers that require higher levels of payment. I would suggest that people wait for the changes to take affect before making any decisions on cancellation. These changes may not affect you at all.

    1. ambir

      I hope you are right but the current Scribd Select selection of audiobooks is quite disappointing. There are about 20 tiles which change every month and the rest are mostly Librivox editions which are free and in the public domain anyway. If they use the same criteria we will have a few dozens contemporary books changing every month and a few thousands books which are in the public domain and are free everywhere.

    2. tonyatawana

      I don’t think it’s that people don’t see that so much as we know what “select” means and is code for. And generally it’s code for “disappointing selection of stuff no one really wants.” Certainly that’s what I have found to be the case with Kindle “Unlmited” which seems to only be “limited” by the fact that I wouldn’t read most of what’s offered on a dare!

      1. Angela Linton

        I already have that with kindle unlimited on Amazon – access to loads and loads of free books, the vast majority of which seem to be trashy self-published porn. Not sure some of these companies really get it – a badly written book is no substitute for a decent book, in fact it only irritates the reader that they wasted so much of their lives on it.

  9. luk luk

    what about someone who never need to read entire book ???
    I read technical books and I need 100s books a month but only one maybe two paragraphs from each.
    I never read entire book.
    this change is disaster from my point of view.
    looks like lot of people being forced to be pirates again

    1. chris

      Exactly my thoughts on it. I get on and can skim through 10 books on one subject in order to help me on a building project or electronics gadget or computer programming. The audiobook thing was a really bad move IMO, because I’m also on the road a lot, there went that, with the ridiculous charge of 8.99 for an extra audiobook credit. I don’t know who is calling the shots there, but they are making them for all the wrong reasons, greed. None of these major changes over the past year have been customer oriented, it’s profit oriented, and obviously is leaving many customers rethinking is a service they used maybe 5 days in a row or once every 3 months unlimited use now being walled off really worth the $8.99. I cancelled Netflix and I foresee Scribd quite possibly will be next to go. I will stick around another month or so , but the audiobook change almost had me out, so I’m likely gone after this anti-customer service overhaul.

  10. Alison

    I’ve been using Scribd to read between 1 and 8 books a month, the majority from small independent artsy publishers that public libraries hardly stock. After browsing through probably tens of thousands of titles, I ended up with a library of about 150 I actually wanted to read, and have been working through those.
    I’ve been reading quite a lot precisely because it looked like a business model that wouldn’t last: if it seemed likely those same books would have still been there in a year or 18 months, there would have been more months when I was one of those \3 books or less\ readers.
    There don’t seem to be grounds to think that many – or any – of those books will be available under the new scheme, or that something I want to read at any given time will be present. Still, not jumping ship just yet, it’ll be interesting to see how things work, though I don’t generally like highly curated services because they leave so little room for the consumer to make their own choice; it sounds like Scribd may become an experience similar to the film site MUBI, which among people I knew became much less attractive when it changed to a small curated selection a few years ago, most of them leaving. But MUBI is nevertheless still going as some users like that sort of thing.
    The statement that the available books in any month will be in the \thousands\, if that means four figures rather than \tens of thousands\ or \hundreds of thousands\, is not promising.

    I would have been happy to pay a significantly higher subscription fee, as much as $25-30 for the previous level of access and availability – and if there were an option for no audiobooks I’d sign up for that. Scribd are strangely insistent on sticking to a single monthly fee rather than having tiered options, although there are public comments on various sites, not just on this change but earlier, from users who would pay more.

    It looks like HarperCollins UK weren’t fans of this model. US HarperCollins’ titles are still there, but a few days before the public announcement, all the titles I had in my library from HarperCollins UK were marked as expiring on March 12th, and the publisher’s page then started to feature little more than a few romances and samples.

    1. tonyatawana

      I agree. I really don’t care about the audiobooks and don’t understand why they don’t do a tiered service with varying prices so as to have greater appeal. I got rid of my subscription months ago because I just felt like they weren’t going to being improving (after limiting the romance novels they had and then changing the audiobook model) and were actually in the midst of going under. They actually are still around which I think is more than I expected.

      Hopefully, they will change and offer a tiered service as you mentioned. I think at this point, that would likely be the only thing that might get me back to them.

    2. bluebellrose

      I wouldn’t blame the publishers either. Considering the publishers themselves are hawking their own books for much cheaper than what scribd is now charging people with their model per book pricewise. One of them, Harlequin at least seems to be trying to push people towards google play books,amazon and the other online ebook sellers. And throwing in a rewards system to boot lol.

  11. Dominic

    My question, which I’ve just sent to Scribd Support, is how does this affect single issues of comic books? The comic library was the feature that originally sold me on Scribd, but if they will be likewise restricted to three a month, then my subscription is used up in about half an hour. It would be nice if they made a different allowance for single issue comics, possibly based on page count or story arc.

    Also, at three books a month, this discourages experimentation with new titles. One of the things I enjoyed about Scribd was the ability to try a new author or work and move on to the next one if it didn’t work out. With this limitation, I have to really WANT to read a book in order not to waste my subscription credits.

  12. Dee

    This renders the service pretty much useless to me. I also use it mostly for the non fiction books. Reading only a little in many different books. Maybe that’s the problem? If scribd has to pay royalties every time someone browses in a book…I would also gladly pay a higher fee for free access to only ebooks.

  13. Dylan

    I will drop the service. I don’t 3 books a month is worth it. I can find most of what I want to read for free on the Internet anyway without paying a dime to a publisher. The library function is worth more to me and I would pay a higher fee for it. 3 books is not worth it.

  14. Mary

    What a punch to the stomach. I’d gladly pay a higher fee to keep what I have. This doesn’t work at all for nonfiction readers like me who don’t “need something to read” but have a topic they want to read about. Generally I have not just a topic but a specific title I want to read And I was always tickled when Scribd carried it. Feeling screwed now .

  15. Melissa

    This is a big let down. I have built up quite a queue of books I had planned to read at any given time and now it will all be fractionated and/or disposed of due to Scribd’s new model of greed. I too would be willing to pay more to keep the unlimited subscription service. Heck, I would pay around 50 a month if they would allow unlimited audiobooks AND ebooks. There need to be other options for those of us who prefer the unlimited experience. Meh.

  16. Max Tate

    Interesting development for Scribd. I wonder how many people will migrate to book services that are truly “unlimited”, like Playster? Even if this update will only affect 3% of customers heavily, I wonder if the IDEA of unlimited content being taken away will be enough to sway people. It remains to be seen I guess.

  17. Loreet

    Yeah, it was too good to be true. I may wait to see what the ‘Scribd Select’ titles include, and which are in the Unlimited Library. Like others, I enjoy browsing many titles, reading a few cover to cover. Many of us have used Scribd as we did Borders, I guess — in this digital world, readers haven’t changed at all. Sorry to see them go. I think the end is near.

  18. Jay

    Basically Scribd is just renting books for three bucks a piece now. I use Scribd for researching, and three books a month is NOT going to cut it.

  19. xikix

    How is it that netflix can rent out as many movies as the customer wishes to watch?
    I bet the customers watch more movies at netflix per account that the scribd users read books or listen to audiobooks (it just takes longer to read a book and listen to audio books per book)

  20. Erik Wilgenhof plante

    Nice when it lasted. If Netflix can provide unlimited access why can’t Scribd do it? I often read 4-5 books at the same time and sometimes switch a few times. 3 books is not nearly enough, especially if I can’t keep those books. Cancelled my subscription.

  21. Dominic

    Here’s my reply from Scribd Customer Support regarding my question as to whether the new limits apply too single issue comic books. For the TL;DR crowd, it essentially says “Thanks for writing in. Here’s no new information and we will not directly address your inquiry. Look forward to using up your monthly subscription in a single day. Who needs customers?” :

    “Thanks for writing in! I know this change may seem a bit drastic or possibly bleak at the moment – I’ll do my best to address your concerns but if you have any questions let me know!

    Starting in March, you’ll get 3 Monthly Reads and 1 Audiobook credit each month – you can redeem these for books of your choice from the entirety of Scribd’s library. To clarify, ebooks (content in our Books section) and Comics will be affected by this change. Any book you redeem as your “Monthly Book” will be yours to read and re-read again for lifetime of your membership as long as the book is still available on our service. We are also keeping nearly 150,000 titles from our library completely unlimited – these are all quality titles from multiple genres and book types that will be freely available with your membership.

    The 3 Monthly Reads will be redeemable for any title in the entirety of Scribd’s library. The catalog itself isn’t changing, so you’ll still see all the same great titles – we’re just going to be sectioning off a portion of our catalog to help manage our own costs a bit better.

    To offset these changes we’ll also have a small rotating catalog of Scribd Selects – this catalog will include several books that are hand picked by Scribd staff from each genre every month. That way, there’s always something new to read, and you won’t necessarily be limited to just 3 books per month.

    Audiobooks remain largely unchanged from how they’re currently working; you’ll also continue to have full unabated access to our Sheet Music catalog as well as our community generated content. We have more detailed explanations and overviews of the changes in our FAQs which you can read here:

    In particular, you may find our support guide, “The new Scribd subscription – everything you need to know”, the most helpful in getting a better understanding of the “why’s” and “how’s”.

    If you have any other questions, let me know!”

  22. Daniel Fischer

    Good job Scribed! You will never EVER have me as a returning customer. You were the best now you are the worst.

  23. Kendra

    I am one that can read 2-4 books a day. If this changes my reading patterns, I will definitely be cancelling my subscription for sure!

  24. Dulcie Bowyer

    Although I’m hopeful I can HAPPILY continue my scribd membership I am exploring other options for my reading binges. I Wanted to share my results of POSSIBLE replacements. What I have found that many people are happy with are. Non resident paid library memberships the 2 most promising are
    1. Brooklyn public library $50.00 a year
    2.Free library of Philadelphia also $50.00 a year

  25. LV-Reader

    I have already asked for my account to be closed. I am a business man and I read a little out of many books. To pay the subscription each month for only 3 books is worthless. I too would gladly pay a higher subscription for the unlimited access. I had 38 books in my library that I was in the process of reviewing. Now, if I want them, it would take me over 1 year to get to all of them. The kicker is, they have no consideration of customer loyalty. They didn’t say, \in 3 months we have been forced to change our model..\ or even offer any sort of grandfather clause to all those with books already in their library. I am glad this is a sustainable model for them to try to keep their jobs…good luck with that. A CEO should have come out with a letter describing their model a little further, just enough to demonstrate why there was a need to change this model, then I would consider keeping this subscription, but at this moment, they lose my fee each month. They had the same method of surprise change with the audio books, but I stuck with it. I should have looked for an alternative at that time.
    -Good Luck Scribd, but for this Shark – I’m out!!!

  26. Marc Holman

    Nothing I could think of that interested me was on the ‘scribd selects’ shelf. I used the service like a research library and maintained large collections . I’d often browse and take notes on several books per evening. Scribd was awesome. For my purposes now — it is unusable. I just cancelled my membership and I encourage all other users to do so. We went from paying 9 bucks a month for unlimited access to however many documents and books were on the site to a miserable three. And what if you select one by accident? You make a mistake or it turns out to suck? Too bad sucker.

    No good thing lasts. If scribd goes back to the old policy I will be the first to renew. Until then , good riddance.

  27. bluebellrose

    lol I just realized, scribd is more expensive than google in terms of pricing per book. If you’re from Canada, the cost per book costs from 3.90 to 4.33 CAD per book. The only good thing is you don’t have to pay taxes on it. Seriously if i’m going to be paying that much per book, I might as well buy it off of google. If you buy harlequin books from google and you are located in North America, apparently the publisher has a rewards system in place for that now. After x amount of books apparently you get a freebie or something. Just cancelled.

  28. Vern

    This was an amazing service. To go from unlimited to 3 books is very debilitating. If the number was 10 it would make more sense for the many of us that just like to read a chapter here or there for non-fiction research reason. Subscription canceled.

  29. john gury

    What is really really stupid is even books that are completely public domain, Confessions of St. Augustine, Essays-of-Montaigne, …, all count toward your monthly credit. That is total idiocy and I’m not going to bother complaining about it to their worthless support.

  30. Raf

    omg they changed their system, I just got three months free with samsung and after that im bailing out, 3 books for 9$ per month ? Have you lost your mind SCRIBD ?

  31. Georgia NeSmith

    I encourage people to download the Overdrive app, which is free and enables you to download books from any participating library for which you have a card. The number of downloads you can get at any one time depends on your library.

    Mine allows 10 at once, but and enables you to download as many as many books as you like per month within that limitation. I have 3 weeks for books and 2 weeks for audio each. If a book is on reserve for others, that’s the end of it, although you may add your name to the list again for later access. If it isn’t on reserve, you may renew it.

    Thus if you can read 10 books a day, and then return them immediately, you can check out another 10 books. If you’ve read 5 and return them, you can check out 5 more. If you start a book and don’t like it, you can return it and get another. So theoretically you could check out 300 books a month — or more depending on how fast you can read and return them.

    The book list isn’t as extensive as your public library’s paper book list, unfortunately. In part that’s because not all books have been digitized, in part because it’s expensive to add digital books. In general the list focuses on books published in the last 10 years, but there are SOME older. I turned to Scribd to augment my library’s list. I came in \on the cusp\ of the new rules and I am none too happy about that.

    I also have a Kindle subscription but I am about to drop that because it’s pretty much trashy books, as others have said.

    Obviously I am a voracious reader. Lately in my aging years I have found audio books better because of difficulties concentrating. The added bonus that I can listen while doing something else that doesn’t engage the language part of my brain (like housework or bike riding) helps me to concentrate, too.

    So the limitation of one audio per month sucks big time for me.

    I also would be willing to pay a higher price for more access as long as it offered a list with more literature, history, and science.

    There could be another option, too — for people to be able to designate their areas of interest so the \unlimited\ selections would better fit one’s interest. That could be a bonus for publishing companies trying to decide what books they will publish. It’s a ready made survey of interest.

    I believe there is stronger interest in intellectual books than they realize. We voracious readers can’t afford to buy all the books we would want to read, especially as the cost of paper books has skyrocketed. So an additional subscription fee for targeted lists and increased numbers would probably be jumped at!

    On the other hand, one or more of the entrepreneur types who currently subscribe or are just interested and have the talent could create a subscription company targeted solely at us intellectual types. Imagine that. 7th heaven!

  32. Ryan

    I used to love this site… I renewed my subscription recently, unfortunately unaware of the changes they had made. I tried viewing some books I had saved in my library on the site, then saw I couldn’t view them unless I used a credit? Seriously? And, what’s worse, is that I don’t have any “monthly book” credits from all of the previous two years or so I’ve had a subscription with them (yes, they cap at 9, but I didn’t even have credits from just a couple of months ago, so my balance is well under the cap). I’ll be searching for a different website for sure. This is just pathetic.

  33. Denitsa Komitska

    I agree with the majority of the comments here! I have been using scribd for about a year now and I’m not a person that usually pay for these kind of subscriptions but the convenience of being able to pick up a new book whenever I wanted kept me on. I’m a very active reader and I have few selected genres that I prefer and although the quality of the available books was not always the best I like that I was able to read as much as I like. This limit to 3 books a month is ridiculous to me as I can read 3 books in 2 days … What do I do with the rest of my month then…. I understand that they are a business and have to make some money out of this but I think there were many more options… I would have easily agreed to a higher price just out of not have to go look for a similar option elsewhere I would have continued on even on double the price without even thinking about it… That being said I will no longer subscribe to SCRIBD as I do not find the value for money or the convenience of this service and it would be a waist of my money for 3 books …. VERY DISAPPOINTED!!!!

  34. Dennis W Robinson

    I cancelled my Scribd subscription not long after I took it out. This was some months ago yet funds are still being withdrawn by Scribd from my account. I cannot access the account to cancel again nor can I contact Scribd. Obviusly Scribd is a SCAM run by unscrupulous Americans (as per usual)

  35. J Dunn

    Well, there I was looking for a new source of books I looked at scribd because I read somewhere that scribd had a better reading list than kindle unlimited. It may, but 3 books a month!! I read three books yesterday( four actually) Scribd would be a very expensive waste of time for me. Do they not realise that I can actually buy many Kindle classics for 99p ? and many used physical copies (books) for the same amount ?? delivered free?
    Well I’m off… sod ’em !!



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