Scribd kicked off November with the announcement that it was adding premium magazine content to its E-book subscription service from top publishers including Bloomberg, Entrepreneur Media, IBT Media, New York Media, Slate Group, LLC, and Time, Inc. For no additional fee, subscribers can read current articles as well as archive editions of magazines, including:
- Bloomberg Businessweek
- Foreign Policy and New York Magazine
Other magazines will be added on a rotating basis. Newsweek and The Atlantic will be among the first to be included.
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As an added change, the new magazines and Scribd's current catalog of e-books, audiobooks and documents are now organized by topic of interest, covering approximately 16,000 topics. In addition, Scribd says subscribers can discover new magazine content in three new ways: trending articles, selected by Scribd editors and leading influencers like Mark Zuckerberg; areas of interest; and full issues.
“We've always envisioned Scribd to be the reading destination that connects readers to the best written work, and magazine articles have been one of our most requested features,” said Trip Adler, CEO of Scribd. “By connecting books, audiobooks, documents, and now articles, around areas of interest, our members are now free to skim what's trending or dive deep into any subject.”
For $9.99 a month, subscribers get monthly access to e-books, audiobooks, magazines and documents, following a 30-day free trial. Access is not unlimited, due to a change announced by Scribd earlier this year. Reading is no longer unlimited except for a rotating selection of nearly 150,000 titles chosen by Scribd editors. Aside from that collection, subscribers are limited to three e-books or comic books, and one audiobook from Scribd's catalog of bestsellers and award winners, per month. For now, Scribd subscribers will have full access to magazine articles without using their e-book and audiobook reading credits.
Magazine articles can be read on Scribd.com or through the Scribd app, but they can't be stored to read offline later, nor can they be downloaded or printed. Articles cannot be highlighted or annotated, but text and whole articles can be shared with friends.
Scribd was launched in 2013. Since then, readers have logged more than 17 million hours of reading and the company has amassed millions of books, audiobooks, comics, documents, sheet music – and now magazines – with regular additions of fresh material. Scribd boasts the following reader statistics:
- 80 million monthly readers
- 2.5 million user bookmarks
- 17.6 million hours of reading time
- 194 countries using Scribd
According to Nieman Lab, magazine publishers will receive payments from Scribd in one of two ways: through licensing agreements or per article. For now, the magazine articles are presented as text and images without ads.
Scribd's announcement comes less than a month after Amazon announced, Prime Reading, a new benefit of Amazon Prime membership which includes popular magazines, books, comics and short-form literary works. According to Media Post, the list of free digital magazines includes People, Sports Illustrated, Bon Appétit, National Geographic, HGTV, Popular Mechanics and Golf Digest as well as others.
In the Nieman Lab article by Laura Hazard Owen, Scribd CEO told the reporter than the company has finally hit profitability within the last three months. This may be due, in part, to the business model change it imposed earlier this year. Scribd's profitability may also have been boosted by the closing of competitor Oyster in the fall of 2015.
Also, we are wondering if there was a quiet price increase imposed on new subscribers. Both Nieman Lab and the Wall Street Journal wrote in their articles that the monthly subscription fee was $8.99 a month, but the Scribd website shows that the monthly fee is $9.99 a month.
Regardless of how it has become profitable, this is a good move for Scribd. To compete with Amazon and magazine reading subscriptions like Texture, Magzter and Readly, Scribd must continually add fresh, new content as well as the popular consumer magazines subscribers read the most.