If you have been keeping up with the news over the last few weeks, you might have noticed that Scribd has launched a subscription service. An avalanche of articles labeled it a “Netflix for books,” which is as good a description as any, especially since the website is laid out in a very Netflix-esque way.
So what is it exactly? Well, Scribd is a subscription service that offers access to tens of thousands of books, audiobooks, and most recently, comics, for a monthly fee of $8.99. Here is an excerpt from the “About Us” section on their website:
Based in foggy San Francisco, Scribd is building the world’s premier e-book subscription service. Since we launched in 2013, our readers have clocked more than 17 million hours of reading time across all genres.
We’ve built a library of more than one million books, audiobooks & comics, and we’re adding more every day.
As of right now, Scribd boasts a staggering 80 million monthly readers, and over 17.6 million reading hours. Judging by my mathematical calculations, that’s roughly the equivalent of the population of two Californias, and about 2,009 years worth of reading time. That being said, me and Math aren’t on speaking terms after several disagreements over petty things like my GPA… maybe the next book I read will be about math (but I doubt it).
Even with the equivalent of the populations of ten New York Cities, I was still a little hesitant about giving it a try. Sure, $8.99 doesn’t seem like a lot, but I also have Netflix, Comcast, Xbox Live, and other, more substantial monthly bills (like a mortgage and car payment) to worry about. But for the sake of this article (and because there were a surprising amount of Valiant comics on there) I decided to bite the literary bullet and give it the ol’ college try. After all, if I didn’t like it I was only out less the $10 (and technically the first month is free so I would actually be out $0 – even better!).
My first few downloads were relatively easy. I went straight to the comics section and tracked down several Valiant Comics titles I have been wanting to read. The trade paperbacks can get a bit pricy and I had just bought over 50 individual issues trying to catch up, so my comics fund was in the red. Their selection for Valiant titles is excellent, so that’s where I started. Four issues of Quantum & Woody later, I was ready to browse the book and audiobook selections.
This was a little more intimidating. Scribd offers a variety of categories, including: Fantasy, Fiction and Literature, Science-Fiction, History, Children’s, and Science & Nature. I spent hours browsing these sections trying to find the next book I wanted to read. The comics section alone contains some great stuff by Valiant, Marvel, and IDW. The first book I chose was Neil Gaiman’s American Gods: Authors Preferred Text, which I had bought years ago but never got around to reading. After finishing that book in less than a week, a new game was afoot.
My next browsing session left me with ten new books in my library (it got a little out of hand), and a new conundrum — which book should I start with? I read the first chapter of The Mental Floss History of the United States: the (Almost) Complete and (Entirely) Entertaining Story of America, then jumped over to Daniel H. Wilson’s Where’s My Jetpack? A Guide to the Amazing Science Fiction Future that Never Arrived. While both of these books are great (and will be read in the future), I eventually landed on A. J. Jacobs’ hilarious book, The Know-It-All: One Man’s Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World. Know-It-All follows Jacobs as he attempts to read all 33,000 pages of the Encyclopedia Britannica. All of this reading was interspersed with six issues of Valiant’s Harbinger, and an issue of the Marvel Masterworks Collection of The Avengers.
While their collection won’t contain everything you wish to read, there is still a lot of great stuff available that would take you a long time to work your way through. It’s also a great way to get caught up with my favorite comic publisher, the previously mentioned Valiant Comics, or read Ed Brubaker’s run on Captain America, or Walt Simonson’s amazing title, Ragnarok.
So, Is It Worth It?
Well, let’s look at the numbers. American Gods: Authors Preferred Text retails for $14, while The Know-It-All goes for $12. Valiant’s trade paperbacks generally run about $10 a piece, and I’ve read about the equivalent of three volumes so far. That’s about $56 dollars worth of reading in less than two weeks all for less than $10 a month, and I still have another $100 worth of books on the docket. That’s a pretty ridiculous return on my investment. If you read more than a book a month, then the subscription basically pays for itself (I have read the equivalent of 7 months worth of books so far).
What does it all mean?
It means that Scribd is absolutely worth it. Head on over to Scribd and set up your free trial now!