Don’t Go Breaking My Heart, Scribd

September 1, 2015 Audio Books 39

Dear Scribd,

When we first met, I adored you. I wrote you love letters (seriously, read it!) Your $8.99 monthly fee for unlimited access to audio books was the best thing in the history of ever. I was over the moon and wallowing in a glut of fabulous literature being piped directly into my earholes. And then? Then I found out that you’re changing your system. My heart is breaking.


I’m too upset to keep this going in letter style, so I’m switching back to third person. Scribd is moving to an Audible-style credit model at the end of September. They’re claiming they will still have “plenty” of audio books available for unlimited listening, but everything else will be credit based. The $8.99 subscription fee gets you one audio book credit a month and $8.99 for each credit thereafter. It’s still less expensive than Audible which charges $14.95 a month, but unlike Audible‘s model, you don’t get to keep anything with Scribd, it’s just a rental. You can re-listen to audio books you’ve used credits on at any time, but you must have an active subscription to access anything, whereas with Audible, you can cancel and still listen to what you’ve purchased.

Needless to say (again) but I’m disheartened. Still, I’m a realist. I understand that companies need to make money and publishing rights are complicated and all that jazz. And there’s still that unlimited section, right? With “plenty” of titles? I scoped out my library of audio books. EVERY SINGLE TITLE I saved is either expiring or will be a credit-only book. I’ll tell you what, it’s going to be a listen fest to try and get through as many of these titles as I can before Scribd turns into a pumpkin. 


All the gray “expired” bars and blue exclamation points? Yeah. That’s my whole library.

When I contacted Scribd regarding the lack of available unlimited titles, they assured me that once the program goes live, users will at least be able to filter titles and view the unlimited titles in their entirety. I’m skeptical, but not throwing in the towel quite yet. I think it’s safe to say that the honeymoon is over, though, Scribd. Our relationship is on life support, yo.

Grumpily Yours,


39 Responses to “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart, Scribd”

  1. Becca

    I’ve been wondering why I’ve been seeing Tweets about Scribd with little crying faces. I don’t like audio books much because I can’t focus, although I use them on the road sometimes. But not enough for Scribd or Audible. Sucks they changed their system.

    • Words For Worms

      I know, I shouldn’t be surprised. Just once though, I wish that something “too good to be true” really was. File that away with my dreams of teleportation and talking penguins.

  2. Shannon @ River City Reading

    That’s such a bummer. I didn’t use the service, but I know I would be super frustrated if it changed like that all the sudden and would have a hard time holding onto my subscription if half the books I read were suddenly gone.

    • Words For Worms

      Yeah I need to do some research. I think my library may have upped their audio book game, and if so, I’m outie. (Why yes, I did just use slang from a 20 year old movie. Clueless, FTW!)

  3. ThatAshGirl

    We tweeted about this…I’m so sad. Half my library is expiring and everything else is going to credits. I previewed a few books and removed them based on how annoying the narrator is. I may just finish up my library and cancel the subscription.

    • Words For Worms

      I know Scribd has comics and ebooks but they’re not compatible with my Kindle Paperwhite. I don’t want to have to purchase a new device just to make the most of a service that no longer fulfills the need I originally signed up to satisfy. Gah!

    • Words For Worms

      I’ve been checking into my library. I listened to so many audio books that I felt like I was running low selection-wise, but yesterday I started searching titles and the results were promising. Yay libraries, saving the day!

  4. Samantha

    I’m sorry to hear that. I canceled my Scribd subscription awhile ago because their selection in general left a lot to be desired, but the removal of all unlimited listening is disappointing. Especially since you don’t keep your books in the first place. I agree that Audible is nicer in that way since if you do cancel, you still keep the books you got. I hope that they figure out a way to make that more palatable.

  5. Leah @ Books Speak Volumes

    I just subscribed to Scribd in July, and I am so, so sad about this. Although they’re saying there will still be thousands of unlimited audiobooks, it doesn’t bode well that every single one of my audiobooks is expiring or credit-only. There may be “plenty” of books available, but are any of them going to be books I want to listen to? I know profits/rights are complicated, but I’m so bummed! I think I’ll give them a month after the switch to see how it goes, but I’ll probably unsubscribe after that.

  6. Christine @Buckling Bookshelves

    I only just found out about this change when I (finally!) signed up for a free trial month recently. I have to agree that this change is disappointing, but I do wonder how they could ever stay in business with the original model? I’m still not sure I will pay after my month is up…of the books I’m interested in, it seems they have mostly the same titles I can get from Overdrive through my library, but without the waiting lists — which is a major plus, but do I really want to pay just for quicker access? I don’t think I do. I like that you get ebooks and comics in addition, but e-reading is still typically a last resort for me if I can’t get a book in print (I’m stubborn, I know!) I think if I were a big ereader too, this would be a nobrainer credit system or not, but since I’m not, I’m just not sure!

    • Words For Worms

      In order to utilize comics and e-books from Scribd I’d need to buy a new device since they’re not compatible with my Kindle Paperwhite. I might feel differently if I were utilizing Scribd’s other resources, but like i said, I got it solely for audio books. Such a bummer.

  7. AMB

    Oh no! I’m so sorry. I really hate it when products/services I love change. Sometimes I’m able to adapt, but usually not when it requires I spend more money!

  8. janeycanuck

    Of the 208 audios I had saved for later, 12 are part of their “unlimited” collection (at least 3 of which I’ve already listened to) and 44 are set to expire entirely. The rest are all part of their 1 credit system.

    I understand if their current model is unsustainable and I understand if they need to make changes but I think it’s totally unreasonable for additional credits to be the same cost as my monthly membership fee. I’d happily pay $2-3 for an additional credit but why pay $8.99 when I can go over to Audible and if I get the 2-book annual plan, pay under $10 per book and get to own it?

    I find it sad that Scribd is making changes less than a year after introducing audio books. It makes me wonder how much they really think things through, did they not run through various scenarios to make sure they could support this model?

    • Words For Worms

      YES! Like, I am willing to pay more for a premium membership or even a reduced credit fee, but they’ve given exactly zero options. I’d forgotten about the breaks on annual plans with Audible, that’s something to think about for sure, for the newer releases I can’t get from the library.

  9. Lindsey

    What a bummer. I was thinking of signing up for Scribd, but I held off because I have way too many books to read as it is! I will be waiting to see what your final verdict will be.

  10. Katie McD @ Bookish Tendencies

    My words and sentiments exactly. I too took a peek at my library, and like you, almost everything is going bye-bye or will need a credit. I’m going to keep my subscription for a month or two to see what ends up being “free,” but this is SUCH an incredibly horrible no good BUMMER fest.

  11. Jenny @ Reading the End

    I kind of have to feel like Scribd didn’t think their subscription/payment model all the way through if they’re making all these changes now. It really seems like they vastly underestimated how much people were going to read using their service.

  12. Jennine G.

    That sucks! I understand they have to make money too, but if it’s just a rental, they should at least drop the price per book lower than the whole monthly fee was. To me, it’s not a balanced offer in comparison to what they were previously offering. Overdrive app may be able to breath life back into your audio reading Katie.

  13. Belle Wong

    I think the only reason I’m staying with Scribd (for now, anyway) is they do have a great graphic novel selection. I’m about to dive into a Kindle Unlimited trial this month, though …

  14. Katie @ Doing Dewey

    Oh no! I hate subscription models where you don’t actually get to own anything once you stop subscribing. Right now, I’m really enjoying audible, but when my current subscription runs out, I think I’ll still be switching to using my library instead. I don’t listen to anything new enough to make that a bad option for me.

  15. Sarah Says Read

    Ah, yes. I still love them. Like it sucks but I get why they have to do it… and it didn’t bother me TOO much because I listen to about 1 audiobook a month, if that. (I know there are probably a lot of people who maybe use it just for the audiobooks, but I use it for everything). I am SUPER psyched that they have Mindy Kaling’s Why Not Me on there right now. It came out 3 days ago! I know what my next one is going to be.

    Oh, and someone mentioned why not switch to just higher membership fees instead of going to a credit system – I’m wondering if the publishers had any input on that. I’m not sure what the contracts are with them, but it’s a possibility, and I’m always a little afraid that publishers will bail from subscription services like this.

    • Words For Worms

      If I had an e-reader other than a kindle, I’d probably still be stoked about the whole thing. As it is, the ONLY service I can really use from Scribd is audio books, unless I want to buy another device, which sort of seems to defeat the purpose…

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