Scribd unveils “Spotify for books”

Scribd has unveiled a service letting users read all the books they want for $9 a month – as long as they’re published by HarperCollins.

Scribd started as a document hosting firm, publishing user content, but now has ereader apps and its own book store. Those existing services will be used to offer the all-you-can-read subscriptions.

Aside from its own library of user work, the company will also offer books from HarperCollins, the only major publisher it’s so far managed to sign up.

Oddly, books that are out of copyright, such as Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, aren’t yet offered as part of the subscription service, but are offered for sale via Scribd.

“We’re really moving beyond documents,” Scribd CEO Trip Adler told Fast Company. “We see ourselves as the library of the future.”

“We’re really focused on books because we think this market is ripe for disruption,” he said. “Given the success of Netflix in video and Spotify in music, it’s inevitable that you’re going to have a similar service in the book space – and it could be a really big business.”

Scribd has apps for iOS and Android – including Kindle Fire tablets – but not Kindle ereaders, an omission Adler said the company is hoping to change.

The Scribd subscription service costs $9 a month and offers a free one-month trial. While it does work in the UK, many books are not accessible “due to territorial rights restrictions”. The company notes: “We understand this is frustrating and aim to make all books available globally.”

While streaming music and video has taken off thanks to Spotify and Netflix, subscription book services have so far struggled, although Amazon does offer a limited lending library for those subscribing to its Prime service.

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