Sunday, November 23, 2014

Scribd Books Review


After reviewing oyster books, I thought I'd try out one of their competitors, Scribd.

The Basics


Scribd is an 'all-you-can-read' e-book subscription service. The subscription costs $8.99 (USD) per month and offers unlimited reading via iPhone, iPad, Android and web browser.

Initial Impressions


I had to hit the reset button on Scribd before starting out. This is because in years past I had encountered lots of less than useful technical documents on Scribd from Google searches. Once I did that, I found out that the service is a lot like Oyster Books. The main differences are that it is $1 less expensive and has a few less books (well, at least the books that are on my to-read list).

Likes


Book Selection


The book selection is what you'd expect of an unlimited reading service and, with a few exceptions, offers every book that I had in my Oyster library. 

Personalization


Upon your first sign-in, Scribd asks you a series of questions about your reading preferences so that it can tailor a reading list from its catalog for you. In my case, the recommendations were a bit lacking but I think there's a lot of potential there. I'd especially love to see integration with my GoodReads shelves. I think knowing what I've read (and want to read) would make Scribd's recommendations much more relevant.

Notes and Highlights


I especially liked the ability to highlight passages and takes notes - a feature I'm used to with my Kindle Paperwhite and one notably lacking with Oyster. 

Dimmability


Is that a word? One of the things I love about my Kindle Paperwhite is that it is so nice to read in complete darkness (e-ink on a softly lit background). The Scribd Android application was nicely customizable so that night reading was a pleasant experience. I like it so dim that you can't read the text when the lights are on. This makes reading in the dark pleasant. The Scribd Android application accommodates this rather nicely. 

Responsiveness


Nothing is worse than becoming aware that you are using an application while reading a book. To meet this goal, page turns should be fast and the application should be responsive to user actions. During the reading experience, Scribd scores perfectly here.

Dislikes


Slow Library Browsing


Remember how I said the application was responsive while reading? Well, the Android application was super-slow when browsing the library to discover new content. So slow, in fact, that I used a laptop to add items to my list and then would proceed to read what I had added on my phone.  

Single Page Layout in Web Browser


The reading experience in a web browser is lovely - if you are using the dual page layout (which I came to love). The single page layout, though, felt clunky and odd with a lot of wasted space. For those reading via a web browser, the site has been clearly optimized for dual pane reading. 

Read 3 Months for Free!


Sign up using my referral link and get an additional month free on top of the free month Scribd gives you for signing up! You can get bonus time, too, if you do the following:

  • Follow Scribd on Twitter (1 week)
  • Share on Twitter (1 week)
  • Contact Support (1 week) - they'll give you this option when you cancel your trial
  • Share on Facebook (1 week)
That's a pretty easy 3 months! Of course, you can earn more by referring others (1 month per sign-up).

Conclusion


If you've not tried an e-book subscription service, give this one a try. It's one of the best and you have plenty of time in your trial to make up your own mind.

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