It’s been a while since we heard from Scribd, the formerly-unlimited ebook subscription service that changed to a semi-unlimited model back in February. However, yesterday Scribd contacted me with some interesting news, embargoed until the moment this post appeared.
Scribd is adding “premium magazine content” to its subscription service from publishers including Bloomberg, Entrepreneur Media, IBT Media, New York Media, Slate Group LLC, and Time Inc. Available titles will include Time, Money, Fortune, People, Bloomberg Businessweek, Entrepreneur, Foreign Policy, and New York Magazine. Newsweek and The Atlantic will follow a little later. These magazines take their place alongside the books, audiobooks, and other documents Scribd’s subscription service already offered.
At the same time, Scribd is launching what it calls “a new content-agnostic discovery experience,” in which it groups all of its content–books, audiobooks, documents, and now magazine articles–by 16,000 topics of interest. The press releases it sent me aren’t really clear on how one browses those interests, or how it differed from the content discovery methods Scribd offered before–and as I’m not a subscriber, I haven’t seen it first-hand. But however it differs, Scribd touts it as an improvement.
What can we take from this change in service? The most obvious thing is that Scribd is still around, and hasn’t yet had to shutter its service from disgruntled subscribers quitting over its big-eater cutback earlier this year. Indeed, given that the new terms weren’t actually restrictive to 97% of its subscribers, perhaps the change was just what it needed to stay profitable so it could continue.
And Scribd is continuing to improve its service, too, though I wonder just how much of an improvement adding popular magazine content really is. How many of those magazines can already be read free from the Internet via Google News, or via online library index services such as EBSCOhost? And are there enough people out there for whom having popular magazines available would make Scribd just enticing enough to sign up?
I’ve never seen the need to sign up for any subscription e-reading service–but then, most such services simply don’t offer the books I want to read. Most music services are able to offer major-name artists, thanks to compulsory licensing, and most streaming video services have compelling catalogs as well. But ebook subscription services are the odd man out, largely limited to independent and small publishers because the Big Five publishers don’t want to play.
Ironically, many of those same Big Five publishers’ books are available for free checkout as ebooks via libraries, thanks to library services like Overdrive–but those are libraries. I suspect that, after Amazon did a number on them with its discount pricing, those publishers are a bit wary of supporting anyone else’s service that wants to make money off their digital content–but at the same time, they’ve not had a lot of luck monetizing that content themselves.
In any case, if enough people are using Scribd’s service that it’s worthwhile for the company to expand its offerings, then I think that’s a good thing regardless of whether or not I would use the service personally. Anything that gets more people reading can’t be bad.
The complete press release follows.
Scribd Adds Magazines to Reading Subscription Service,
Connecting Books, Audiobooks, Documents and Articles by Topics of Interest
Subscribers gain access to premium magazine content from top business, lifestyle and entertainment publications including Time, Fortune, Money, People, Bloomberg Businessweek, Entrepreneur, Foreign Policy, Newsweek, New York Magazine, and The Atlantic
SAN FRANCISCO — November 1, 2016 — Scribd, the premier reading subscription service that offers monthly access to books, audiobooks, documents and more, is broadening its offering to give subscribers access to premium magazine content from leading media publishers including Bloomberg, Entrepreneur Media, IBT Media, New York Media, Slate Group, LLC and Time Inc. Subscribers can now enjoy access to articles from current and archive print editions of top brands such as Time, Money, Fortune, People, Bloomberg Businessweek, Entrepreneur, Foreign Policy and New York Magazine. Issues from Newsweek and The Atlantic will be added in the coming weeks. Magazines will be included in the current Scribd membership, at no extra cost, in addition to books, audiobooks, documents and more.
“We are excited to partner with Scribd and bring Bloomberg Businessweek to an emerging, innovative digital platform,” said Josh Rucci, GM and Global Head of Media Distribution for Bloomberg.
The newly-added magazines will sit alongside Scribd’s existing books, audiobooks and documents, organized into 16,000 topics of interest.
“We’ve always envisioned Scribd to be the reading destination that connects readers to the best written work, and magazine articles have been one of our most requested features,” said Trip Adler, CEO of Scribd. “By connecting books, audiobooks, documents, and now articles, around areas of interest, our members are now free to skim what’s trending or dive deep into any subject.”
“Entrepreneur prides itself on being at the forefront of the competitive media landscape and continually in search of innovative ways to bring visibility to our content,” said Ryan Shea, president/CEO of Entrepreneur Media. “We strive to cater to the needs of our audience—busy, on-the-go business leaders who value intelligent insights and their time. Our partnership with Scribd, a leader in the subscription-based content space, allows our readers to enjoy our content on their terms.”
Jim Jacovides, Senior Vice President of Partnerships, Licensing and Syndication, Time Inc., added, “Time Inc. is excited to partner with Scribd as a new content provider. This relationship will give our iconic brands — such as Fortune, Money, People, and Time — access to a new audience in Scribd’s global reader base.”
Scribd members will be able to discover and read magazine articles in several different ways, including:
- Trending: Readers can stay in the know on the topics that matter to them with trending articles, hand-picked by Scribd editors.
- Interests: Articles, books, original source documents and more are all connected by interests, enabling readers to easily go beyond the headlines.
- Full Issues: Magazine content will be offered on the article level, but readers will still have access to full issues from their favorite publishers.
“As Scribd continues to evolve its platform into the most trusted home for publishers online, we’re excited to share with its growing member community our award-winning longform reporting and exclusives, which will be accessible with a new, extraordinary ease,” said Margarita Noriega, Executive Editor of Digital for Newsweek.