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Scribd review

Scribd is a decent subscription service for eBooks and audiobooks, with a low sign-up cost.

Scribd review
(Image: © Scribd)

Our Verdict

While not exclusively an audiobook site, Scribd is a good one-stop service for all your reading needs. It's relatively cheap, and has a wide selection of books, papers, and audiobooks available.

For

  • Good value
  • Loads of different types of media
  • Decent app

Against

  • Smaller selection of audiobooks
  • You can't keep books

Scribd is a book membership service that covers eBooks, audiobooks, newspapers, and many different types of online texts. For $8.99 per month, you get access to a decent catalogue of titles, many of which are available in audiobook format, and you can have newspaper and magazines delivered to your app as part of the service. You're free to read as much as you like every month, but you don't get to keep your downloads once your subscription lapses, so you're essentially renting everything. It's good value for money, and ideal for more voracious readers / listeners, making it one of the top picks in our best audiobook services guide.

Scribd review: Membership and price

The monthly subscription cost for Scribd is $8.99, and this gets you unlimited access to all the titles in its library - from regular eBooks to audiobooks to magazines. While we didn't encounter any limits on what we read and downloaded, there have been a number of reports from heavy users (mostly 10+ books per month) that suggest a cap on reading was randomly imposed. The majority of users, however, don't seem to have encountered this issue. Scribd comes with a 30-day free trial, to help you decide whether or not the service is for you, and that's fairly standard across audiobook subscription sites.

There have been, however, a number of complaints about users being charged after cancellation of membership - either after the free trial period, or following a longer subscription period. Scribd doesn't tie you into any contracts, so you're free to leave whenever you choose, which is great. Just be aware that in some cases your cancellation may not be processed properly, so you would need to follow up with Scribd for a refund.

Scribd review: Library size and variety

How does the library stack up against the competition? While you get fewer than 80,000 titles, significantly less than Audible and Audiobooks.com, there is a good selection here. Some classic audiobooks are available via free repositories, like LibriVox, so if you're judging based on sheer volume of titles, this is a negative. As with all other services we tested, we compiled a list of the most popular books from 2019 and searched for them on each site. Scribd had about 50-60% of the new and popular books we searched for, which is fewer than some other sites.

There is a good selection of magazines and newspapers, like the New York Times, however you don't get unlimited access to these and will have to pay once your free subscription period is up. It's still great value, although if you're expecting everything to be totally free, you'll be disappointed.

Scribd review - there are plenty of books on here

(Image credit: Scribd)

Scribd review: App and website

Scribd has a modern-looking website, but it’s not always intuitive to use. Sometimes it’s difficult to tell what to click on, and some pages are missing menus, which can help users more easily navigate to different areas of the site. It's good for discovery, and search for specific titles is fine - not quite as good as the likes of Audible.

While it’s nice to shop whenever you want online, deciding what to read next can be frustrating and time consuming. Scribd has recommendations and suggestions as well as customer reviews and publisher summaries to help you find books you will like quickly. It also lets you put books on your Wishlist so you can come back and listen to them later. Because the service sells both eBooks and audio books, there were a couple of times we landed on an eBook page rather than one for the audiobook we were looking for. 

Scribd's app design isn’t as clean as Audible’s or Audiobooks.com’s. It’s not very colorful, which can make navigating from one area to another challenging. You can select new audio books to listen to them from the app – a feature only a few other sites offer. However, the Scribd is missing some of the standard features found in most popular audiobook apps. For example, it doesn’t have a sleep timer, which lets you set a time for your device to stop playing so you don’t get too far from your place in the book if you drift off to sleep while listening. We didn’t have any problems with playback or resuming our spot in a book when we switched devices, though. The Scribd app is available on both the Apple App Store and Google Play store for Android, so is compatible with all the best tablets and smartphones.

The service uses Digital Rights Management to protect its files from being copied and reproduced. To avoid misuse, you can only use three different computers or browsers to listen to audio books online in a 24-hour period. You can also download audio books in the application on four different devices such as your tablet or your phone.

You get magazine subs too via Scribd

(Image credit: Scribd)

Scribd review: Support and exchange

It is harder to return books to Scribd than to some of the other audio book sites we reviewed. Rather than having the listening guarantees sites like Audible offers, which let you return your audio book if you’re unsatisfied with it, Scribd requires a documented error, such as a bad download or content missing from the book, to make a return. You also need to contact the company within 30 days of your purchase.

Scribd doesn’t offer support over the phone, but it has a very responsive email system. The company’s FAQs page is thoughtful and has a useful search engine.

Should you choose Scribd?

Scribd is one of the better 'unlimited services' when it comes to audiobooks and eBooks, but it's far from perfect. The low-cost for signing up is great, and there is a large enough selection of titles here to satisfy avid readers, especially if they're not always hunting for specific titles which may (or may not) be included in the Scribd library. It's good if you want to combine eBooks and newspapers too.

However, Scribd's customer service and customer promises aren't always the best, and you won't always find the book you're looking for here. And as with unlimited services, you don't get to keep the books you're reading, should you end your membership. If you're fine with that, you should check out the free subscription to see what literary treasures you can uncover.