Two years after shifting away from its unlimited subscription model in favor of monthly credits, Scribd has announced that its subscribers will once again be able to access the entirety of its vast library of ebooks and audiobooks. However, here’s a catch: voracious readers will find themselves throttled if they read or listen to too much.
Founded to share documents online, Scribd worked its way into the bookseller marketplace by selling and renting ebooks with a subscription service. The company later expanded that subscription service to include audiobooks (and then more audiobooks) and graphic novels. With its growing content library, Scribd’s subscription plan provided considerable bang for your buck, but the company put some limits on the plan in 2016. At the time, users were issued credits so that they could only read three ebooks and a single audiobook each month from the entire Scribd library. They could read an unlimited number of books from a rotating selection of titles called Scribd Select.
The change appears to have worked, which is notable because similar sites such as Oyster (touted as the Netflix of books) had closed up shop. The site later added newspapers and reported that it had over 500,000 subscribers last year and had become profitable.
According to Publisher’s Weekly, the site remains profitable. It now boasts 700,000 subscribers, and the company says that it’s able to return to that unlimited subscription model. Subscribers who pay for the $8.99 monthly subscription no longer need credits to access any book that they want, and the Scribd Select program that offered unlimited books and audiobooks is going away. But, there’s a big exception to that unlimited subscription: if the company says that you’re reading or listening to too much, you’ll find yourself limited. In a blog post, the company says that such users will be presented with a preview of the book, with a date that will tell them when they can access it.
According to the site’s EULA, Scribd can limit one’s access to its content for any reason, including “the costs generated to Scribd by such content or the nature of your use of the Scribd.com website.” TL;DR: if you’re reading so much that you’re costing the company more money, you’ll get throttled. We’ve reached out to Scribd for details about what the exact constraints are and will update if we hear back.
But even with that limitation, Scribd’s return to its unlimited subscription is a nice move for consumers looking to find a good book. Now, you don’t have to worry about throwing away a monthly credit on a book that you might not enjoy.