Audible vs. Scribd: why I’m dumping one for the other

Yes, you read that title correctly. Book lovers rejoice, if you love ebooks and audiobooks, the tapestry of your literary world is about to become richer (and cheaper)! I recently stumbled upon a goldmine of a resource: Scribd. In fact, I was so excited that I stayed up until 1:00 AM perusing this online treasure trove. The following night I crawled into bed at a more reasonable hour only to enter a dream in which I was telling a room of strangers about my new digital discovery and why they would love it too! I woke up realizing that I need to share my excitement with you. Perhaps in the process, I can clear my mental cache and move forward into other important areas of life. So without further ado let me introduce you to my latest online crush, Scribd, and explain why it is going to replace my audible account.

WHAT IS SCRIBD?

Think of it as a Netflix for books. Scribd offers thousands of ebooks and audiobooks at your disposal with no limits for just $8 a month. Let that last part sink in a bit. No limits. $8 a month.

That no limits part is brand new so if you’ve been tempted in the past by Scribd’s “3 ebooks and 1 audiobook” per month option—those days are gone and the Scribd future looks unlimitedly awesome.

Audible vs. Scribd

HOW DOES SCRIBD COMPARE WITH AUDIBLE?

MY AUDIBLE BACKSTORY:

I’ve been an audible member since February 2015. In those three years, I’ve built up a pretty impressive library of 165 books! I found ways to get the most out of my audible subscription by starting out with a “Discount Gold” Monthly subscription (which you have to specifically ask for as it is not advertised) paying $7.49/month for the first 3 book credits. Then, I’ve transitioned to the (also unadvertised) “Silver Plan” paying $14.95/month for one book credit every other month.

Finally, when I’d bought all the books we could hope to listen to, I downgraded to an Audible “ListenerLight” membership for $9.95/year allowing me to continue purchasing books at their member discount price if desired but halting the book credits. Meanwhile, I watched the daily deals and occasional sales, snatching up good books in the $3-$4 price range and I paired free kindle books with the discounted whispersync audiobook option on several occasions. (Click over to this post for more details on all of these options).

Audible vs. Scribd

However, as you can imagine, even calculating the most conservative numbers possible (if I’m purchasing most of my audiobooks at a sale price of $3-$4), I’ve spent at least $500 for my audible listening library! At $8 a month, it would take me a little over 5 years to equal that price with a Scribd subscription.

AUDIBLE VS. SCRIBD VALUE COMPARISON:

One of the major benefits to audible is that all books purchased are yours to keep forever, even if you cancel your membership. For us, the value is in the shared family library. Books that we buy for one person have increased longevity as each person may enjoy it over time. However, a major drawback is that of the thousands of books available in Audible’s library, we can only listen to the specific books that we have purchased. Unless we wish to invest in a more robust subscription plan or make additional outright purchases, we can only add one new book each month to our personal listening library. However, because we are not always interested in the same books at the same time, this method is at times quite limiting.

Audible vs. Scribd

Conversely, Scribd works less like a digital bookstore and more like an open lending library allowing you access to a banquet of books which you feed upon as desired when desired. While I do see value in owning specific books that may be listened to again and again, most of our needs are more adequately met with Scribd’s unlimited subscription plan.

AUDIBLE VS. SCRIBD SELECTION:

Obviously, the value of either platform hinges heavily on their book selection. In the last few years, I have found Audible’s book selection to be quite robust for most of my audiobook needs, yet I don’t always find everything I’m looking for. (Typically this is simply because an audio version of a particular book has not been recorded or rights to a book have not been released).

Therefore, when I started researching Scribd’s offerings I was doubtful that I would find a comparable selection. I was, however, very pleasantly surprised. A few examples:

Audible vs. Scribd

One thing to note is that while all Audible books are audio books, Scribd selections may be available in either an ebook or audiobook format (sometimes both). In addition to audio and ebook books, Scribd also has documents, magazines, news and sheet music. The value of these additional offerings may vary depending on your personal interests.

Since everyone’s literary preferences vary, I’d encourage you to utilize the search function heavily to get a feel for their selection and how it may suit your needs.

A FEW FINAL SCRIBD PROS AND CONS:

PROS:

  • As a family, we can enjoy one subscription across multiple devices. I’ve set up a “list” for each member of our family and as we discover books we are interested in we simply add them to our list.
  • Books can be streamed online or downloaded to your device for offline enjoyment.
  • Just like Audible, Scribd allows you to set a sleep timer, however, the time increments are slightly different (5m, 15m, 30m, 1h, 2h with no “end of chapter option”).
  • In the past, if an Audible book was on sale that I thought the kids would enjoy, I’d buy it and add it to our growing library. However, I’ve purchased books that have never been listened to. While I can (and at times have) returned these titles, it’s easier to simply add books I think my kids will enjoy to their list and not pay more for something they may never get around to reading.
Audible vs. Scribd
Photo: Scribd Book Lists

CONS:

  • Perhaps this will be rectified in future updates but one of my biggest complaints is that unlike Audible, Scribd does not do well managing book progress across multiple devices. What I mean by this is that if two of my children are each trying to listen to the same book, Scribd does not track this well and attempts to sync their progress to match the other device each time they reach the end of a chapter. Because my kids have several books on their lists to choose from they can simply pick another option, however, I’d prefer to see this updated in the future.
  • My second complaint (and this one may be a potential deal breaker for some of you) is that while Scribd works across a variety of devices (IOS, Android, Kindle Fire, etc), the Kindle paperwhite is not one of them. The main reason this wasn’t a deal breaker for me is that my kids have Kindle Fires and I consume most of my books in the audio format. Please note that if you plan to use Scribd on a Kindle Fire you will find the app link on the Scribd website (it does not show up in the Kindle app store).
  • I’d like to see an account settings option that would allow me to disallow certain categories of books from showing up in the search results. A few times while searching for specific book titles, my results pulled up some options that I’d rather my kids not stumble across. While I realize this happens everywhere, I appreciate when companies allow me to filter search result options. I’ve sent a request asking for this feature to be added. If this is important to you, I’d encourage you to email and ask them as well.

WANT TO GIVE IT A TRY?

The best way to find out if Scribd will be the right fit for you is to give it a go.  You can get a free one-month trial if you use this link to sign up.

A FEW SUGGESTIONS TO GET YOU STARTED:

Not sure which books to start adding to your list? Might I suggest my children’s 50 state booklist to get you going? I’ve got over 300 chapter books categorized by the state they take place in and I’d love to give you a free copy. Simply sign up to get my blog posts delivered through email (you can use this form to make it easy) and your link to download the list will arrive in moments via your welcome email.

How about you? Are you currently an Audible member? Have you used Scribd in the past or more recently since they updated to an unlimited plan? If you decide to sign up to give Scribd a try, I’d love for you to come back here and leave a comment letting me know what you think of it.

Also, my RVing friend Chelsea wrote a really informative blog post highlighting the different resources she has found for enjoying books on the road. Happy reading!

33 thoughts on “Audible vs. Scribd: why I’m dumping one for the other”

  1. I’ve never used an audiobook provider, we always just check out books from the library for free. But I can see how it would be incredibly useful on the road! In fact, our library here on the island has a pretty limited selection and I can see the need for more options soon. Thanks for the recommendation, I’m going to look into it more!

      1. A lot of libraries now use a service/app called overdrive. You select your library and login with your library card info and have access to ebooks and audiobooks. It’s free but for popular books you often have to wait (hold list) because they only have so many elicenses.

        I use it all the time but my husband is too impatient so i’ll Suggest scribd to him 🙂

  2. Love this post Heather. And I just recently discovered it as well since I’m playing a game with our boys based on Jules Verne’s – Journey to the Center of the Earth. I listened to it via audible’s prime unlimited and so was excited that my younger boys (who aren’t quite at that reading level) could listen to it. Until I found that somehow, through reasons that I can’t explain, doesn’t allow me to download it for putting it on their iPod Shuffle’s. Drat. Along comes Scribd. So confirms a little more into something great.

  3. I have been trying to decide for a months now on which to go for as an audiobook platform. Your article helped me to finally tilt towards scribd. Would also be availing of the trial link on your post. Thanks Heather.

  4. Hi Heather, great post and thank you 👏
    I was looking for something to listen to on a long car trip initially and the default thought was audible, until I came across your post. I have since joined scribd, via your link, and am on my third book! Thank you for sharing

  5. Thank you so much for this. Like others, I thought Audible, Kindle and iBooks were the only way I could read/listen to books on my iPhone. ;

  6. The photo you shared of Audible’s library makes me sad. I’ve been a member of Audible for over 14 years and have loved it. HOWEVER, Audible recently “dumbed down” their software, replacing the “eBook companion” column that provided really useful information about whether or not I own the companion Kindle book, or whether a Kindle book is available that I might want to purchase- with even bigger pictures of the books’ covers, as we can’t read a simple list.

    I have contacted them in every way possible, and only receive vague responses.

    Amazon and Audible are supposed to be linked, but eliminating the Kindle Whispersync column in my personal Library is the stupidest move ever. Perhaps I should look at Scribd.

    1. 14 years is an incredible amount of time to be loyal to Audible! How sad to hear that over time your experience has gotten more watered down rather than improved! If you decide to try Scribd, I’d love to hear what you think of it!

  7. Thank you so much for the insight! This was really helpful in deciding whether or not Audible was worth it, and we’ll be taking advantage of the 2 free months on Scribd. 🙂

  8. Thanks for your writing, as I’m trying to field my way through the best choices which are multiplying. I just started looking.

    I’m on a free audible trial currently. I believe you are saying Scribd does not allow one to keep books after membership. Are you able to keep them with bookmarks indefinitely as long as you are paying a membership (similar to the bookmarks option in Audible?)

  9. Absolutely correct!

    Also, Scribd has a VASTLY superior selection of Esoteric books. It’s almost as if Audible purposely avoids certain material. I can also download many titles….permanently. PDF files can be downloaded, and via Adobe, turned into audible books as well, (Adobe read out loud function).

  10. I’m so excited about Scribd but do find their claims of “unlimited” not quite truthful. My biscuits reader soon had listened to 2 audiobooks on a week and now we are unable to listen to ant note books from that category until the next billing period. I’m going to email them find out the exact limits but just thought might want clarify this – some sources I read said this seems to be a recent change…

    1. Hmmm yes do contact them and let us know what you find out! I’ve had a few titles in my account have a date a few weeks out in which I could listen but they’ve been few and far between so I wasn’t concerned. If it was happening a lot though I’d certainly want to know what was going on!

  11. This is the answer I was looking for! Thank you so much for the link on the free trial subscription. I can’t wait to try scribd.

  12. Thank you very much. I went to scribd through your link, I hope you got credit.
    I have the same concerns regarding content for children, and I have sent them a message on this.

    I very much appreciate the effort you have gone through with all this.

    Carl

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