Scribd’s The $ 8.99 / month subscription service started with e-books only. Over time, it spread to audiobooks, sheet music, documents, magazines and, as of Tuesday, newspapers. “Selected articles” from the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Guardian, as well as some archival material from the Financial Times, will now be available to Scribd subscribers.
And Scribd says there are a lot of subscribers: The service now has over half a million paying subscribers, paying $ 8.99 per month, and the business is profitable. I was so surprised by the subscriber number I asked the CEO Adler trip to repeat ; That’s right, he said, “We have a revenue rate of $ 50 million. The San Francisco-based company now has more than 110 employees.
Newspaper content was a “natural addition” for Scribd, Adler said. The most popular forms of content on the service are, in order, eBooks, Audiobooks, and Documents. Magazines were added last fall. Scribd also included comics and graphic novels in his service, but stopped including them because there was not enough interest from readers. It has also gone from a completely unlimited content model to one that offers access to three eBooks and one audiobook per month. (Documents, magazines and newspapers are unlimited.)
Judging by the membership numbers Scribd reported, the change in business model seems to have worked. The numbers look impressive and aren’t something I would have predicted a few years ago when the e-book subscription site Oyster shut down, especially as Amazon continues to add new reading offerings to Premium.
Scribd will not focus on the latest news from the newspapers with which it partners. Instead, he’s looking for longer, more persistent content that “suits a book-like experience,” Adler said. “We are opting for longer form content which can take a few minutes to read, has a longer shelf life and will be interesting beyond the first day of its release. The content of the journal, as well as other content in Scribd, is organized by interest.
Each of the newspapers makes a fixed number of articles available to Scribd; Scribd editors choose which ones to include in the service. Some publishers charge fixed license fees; others are paid per reading.
“People have been talking for a long time about how to monetize journalism and we think we’ve come up with a really interesting answer,” Adler said. The newspapers included so far are the big names that don’t have as much trouble monetizing as the smaller ones, but Scribd may include more newspapers in the future. “We believe that if we can offer all of these different newspapers together for one subscription price, then we can make more money for journalists.”