Scribd says goodbye to comics

comics-999504_1920Yesterday,  Nate from The Digital Reader reported that subscription service Scribd has removed comic books from its services. According to the article, Scribd confirmed the deletion in a statement, noting that few users had taken advantage of the comics content. They also said that they had notified comics readers via email in early December.

Now, while I am not a comics reader, I am a Scribd subscriber and can testify to the fact that I certainly did not receive any notice of changes to the service. And while I hadn’t read any comics through the service, as a customer, I would have at least expected to be notified of that significant of a change to its catalog.

Over the past several years, Scribd has made several adjustments to their all-you-can-read subscription service. The service removed the lion’s share of romance novels, decreased the number of audiobooks and finally went to a limited credit system with a rotating selection of free content. The sum total of these changes left many customers extremely dissatisfied.

There are several aspects to this change that are particularly disturbing. First and foremost is the lack of communication on Scribd’s part. One cannot help but wonder if Scribd was hoping to slide the change in under the radar of its main bulk of subscribers. Scribd faced a huge amount of public blowback over the previous paring down of its service. Scribd itself acknowledged that the the comics selection was underutilized. I also suspect  that comics readers may be a lot like romance readers in the amount of content that they consume. They may have decided it was more beneficial to the bottom line to alienate a smaller section of their customer base to save money.

I always get concerned when companies stop communicating. In the past, Scribd was fairly actively engaged in keeping contents updated on its blog. Currently, Scribd has two blogs. The main blog, geared towards customer announcements, is seldom updated. The other blog, called Literally, is penned by Scribd’s editors and features reviews, recommendations, quizzes, essays, and other reading related contents (and is also more frequently updated). There was no mention of the comics issue that I could find on either blog.

Scribd’s actions certainly leave its comics readers in the lurch. It also raises questions about the long-term solvency of Scribd itself as a subscription service. What seems clear is that Scribd has once again decreased its offerings and is  offering less content for the same price. That’s certainly a decrease in perceptive value to its customers and potential subscribers.

Personally, I use Scribd predominantly for ebooks (and the occasional audiobook). Most of the books I use the service for are books that either cost more than I am willing to pay and/or are unavailable at the library. Since I also buy books, use the library and to subscribe to Kindle Unlimited, even reading one or two books on the service a month is worth the cost for me. However, the company lost a lot of trust with their customers with their previous heavy-handed changes to the catalog. Not openly communicating with their customers certainly doesn’t help that trust issue. While I am not unsubscribing (yet), I sure don’t  see myself purchasing a long-term subscription at this rate.

How about you? What do you think?

NOTE: See my article Free Digital Comics and Graphic Novels for sources of free comics.

Daily Links and Deals: Can Google Translate Help Translate a Classic Novel?

daily_links_1Today, a look at using Google Translate on something as complex as a novel. Also, some Kindle users are having an issue with Windows 10, Scribd has made some changes to address discovery issues and we’re still talking about that monkey selfie. In deals, Amazon is offering significant savings on household products.

Daily Links for day, August 26, 2016:

Some Kindle users reporting Windows 10 Anniversary compatibility issues (ZD Net) Windows 10 has managed to break yet something else.

Amazon just launched Vehicles, a place to talk about and lust after cars (The Next Web) But Amazon’s not selling cars – just an awful lot of of parts and accessories.

Google now lets you play ‘Solitaire’ in search results (Mashable) And you can play Tic-Tac-Toe… Forget getting any work done.

If a monkey snaps a selfie, does it own the rights to its own photograph? (Quartz) Yes, we are still talking about that picture.

Can Google Translate Help Translate a Classic Novel? (Publisher’s Weekly) We probably have a lot of misconceptions about how Google Translate works, a fact that highlighted when you try to translate a novel.

Scribd Introduces New Discovery Experience (Scribd.Literally) Since these changes are mostly about curated content, I’m underwhelmed, but YMMV.

Deals of the Day:

Amazon’s selection of Kindle Daily Deals includes Life After Life: A Novel by Jill McCorkle.

In Today’s Deals, Amazon has a large assortment of household products and cleaning supplies. Also, you can also still get $15 off the regular price of the Amazon Tap and the Certified Refurbished Amazon Echo for $150.

The Barnes and Noble Nook Daily Find is AT Bay (An Alex Troutt Thriller, Book 1) by John W. Mefford. The Romance Daily Find is Regency Buck by Georgette Heyer.

Kobo’s Daily Deal is The Excellent Lombards by Jane Hamilton. The Extra Daily Deal is Enslave Me Sweetly by Gena Showalter.

Also, until August 29, 2016, there’s a Back to School Sale: books $4.99 or less. There is also a  selection of Great Reads Under $5 and Bargain Reads in Fiction, in Mystery and other genres.

iTunes’ Weekly Bestsellers Under $4 includes Time for School, Charlie Brown by Charles M. Schulz.

Google Books has a selection of Best Beach Read Bets.

(A note on Daily Deals: All prices current at the time of posting and subject to change. Most items marked Daily Deals are good for only the day posted.

Many large promotions have discount pricing that is set by the publisher. This usually means that titles can be found at a discount price across most platforms (with iTunes sometimes being the exception). If you have a favorite retailer you like to patronize, check the title on that website. There is a good chance that they will be matching the sale price.)


Daily Links are interesting links I discover as I go about my online day. The frequency and number of links posted depend upon the daily news. I also post other, different links of interest on Twitter, Facebook, and on the Google Plus eBook Evangelist Page.

Last Minute Mother’s Day Ebook Gifts

mom_tattooHappy Mother’s Day!

If you still need an last minute e-book gift for your mom, here’s a few ideas:

Send an ebook as a gift

Has mom been talking about a new book she just can’t wait to read? Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iBooks all let you buy a specific ebook as a gift. Look for the “Buy as a Gift” button on the book detail page.

Give a subscription

You can give an all-you-can-read subscription to Kindle Unlimited as a gift. It costs $9.99 and is available for gifting in 6,12,and 24 month membership terms.

The Scribd service also offers a gift subscription option.  You can select from three terms: 3 months for $25, 6 months for $50, or 1 year for $99. Scribd lets you an print out the e-card and hand-deliver it yourself.

For audiobook fans, what about a subscription to Audible?  The service features over 180,000 audio titles. Gifts are available in 3,6 and 12 month memberships. And, if there is a specific book you have in mind that you’d like to give, you can also choose to gift an individual book.

Give a gift card

If you are not sure what mom really wants, gift cards make an awesome choice. I always ask for these so I can buy books! 🙂 These are great because they work for buying both print and ebooks. So where does your mom like to shop?

If Mom has a Kindle, how about an Amazon gift card? You can send them via email or print it out an home and present to mom in person. You can even put your baby picture on it – she’ll love it.

If mom loves her Nook, a Barnes and Noble  gift card is a great gift. The cards can be redeemed online for ebooks and web order in the store.

Itunes Gift Cards make a fantastic gift if you are centered in the Apple Universe. You can get them in a range of denominations, they are available at retailers  almost everywhere or you can buy them online. And, they work for everything: apps, music, books, TV and movies or Apple music.

For Android lovers, Google Play Gift Certificates are a very versatile gift. They can be used for apps, music, books and movies from the Play store. They are available in denominations from $10. Plus, you can buy them online or pick them up a local store when you are on your way to take mom to brunch. 🙂

(Sorry Kobo fans! Kobo US does not seem to be offering the option to send a book or buy a gift card on their website.)

Scribd adds Selects, other features today

Scribd_Selects_500Last February, Scribd announced changes to its subscription service that would begin in mid-March. Planned changes included limiting monthly reads to only three books and one audio book, along with offering a limited selection of unlimited access titles.

Scribd began implementing the new system today. They started by unveiling the first installment of Scribd Selects on their blog. Selects are an assortment of books, audio books and comics chosen by Scribd editorial team, which can be read without additional cost or having to using one of the three allotted Monthly Read credits. This is the unlimited access portion of the subscription that Scribd previously told us about.

These titles also come with a bit of extra reading time. If you don’t have time to finish a Scribd Select during a month, you have an additional two weeks to finish the title before requires the use of a Monthly Read credit for continued access.

The March selection of titles draws books from various categories, including history, art, biography, children’s books, leadership,self-help, food, as well, as a variety of titles from genres like mystery, fantasy, science fiction and romance.

You can find the Scribd Selects lists on the Editor’s Picks Pages. They can also be found throughout various category sections. Or, you can find them on the Scribd website where they are listed separately as a book list, an audiobook list, and a comics list.

Scribd has updated its app to incorporate the new membership features. These app changes include adding Scribd Selects, filtering the library to hide previews and filtering full access  titles in the user library. The buttons on the book page have also been reorganized. Users are required to agree to the new terms and conditions when installing the new app.

There are a few interesting points in the Scribd Paid Access End User License Agreement:

The new TOS clearly distinguishes between direct purchases and membership. This made me wonder if Scribd is also attempting to position itself as an ebook retailer.

There are also a few restrictions:  One says “You may not exceed usage limitations set by content providers (participating publisher or user).” I am not exactly sure what that means. Does that mean we can be throttled for reading too much content? I wonder.

The terms also state that you can only accumulate three monthly audio book credits or nine monthly book credits at one time. Since Scribd gave everyone several free credits in February when they announce the new content terms and since I seldom listen to audio books through Scribd (I had an Audible subscription), I now have six audio book credits built up. I need to check if those will expire.

One important point clarified in the TOS: Once you have accessed a monthly book or audio book on the service you will be able to continue to read or listen to that title as long as your membership remains active in the material remains available on Scribd’s services. That means it is not exactly like a a library book that expires.

The TOS also states if Scribd removes commercial content that you have purchased, it may provide to you, at its sole discretion, a limited window of time in which to download such removed commercial content. I intend to ask for a clarification of this one before I buy anything. Does this mean I am buying it or not?

At the present time, you can purchase additional audio books from the service, but you cannot purchase additional monthly reads or comics.

Is it just me, or do some of these new terms sound a little murky? Or murkier than than the typical legalese….

So, what do you think of the changes to Scribd? Does this sound like what you expected it was going to be like?

Daily Links and Deals: You want to help foot the bill for my data? Yes, please

daily_links_1Daily Links for Friday, March 11, 2016:

Be warned! I am running the gamut today from the serious to the funny stuff. 🙂

Watch how easy it is for someone to hack your iPhone (Techcrunch) The DOJ needs to pay attention here…

Adobe issues emergency patch for actively exploited code-execution bug (Ars Technica) – Again, somebody tell me why we are still using flash?

You want to help foot the bill for my data? Yes, please. (Computer World) – Here’s an opinion piece that thinks that sponsored data might just be good for consumers (gasp)!

Now on Scribd: 6,000 New Titles from Macmillan (Scribd) –  The service is adding new titles to the updated service.

This Hilarious Story Lampooning Ludicrous Tech Company Decor Is Simply Perfect (Gizmodo) – After all, this is what we’ve all been thinking, right?

How to Tell if You’re in a Raymond Chandler Story (The Toast) –  Delightful!

Deals of the Day:

Amazon’s Kindle Daily Deals includes deals on several Harry Bosch novels by Michael Connelly.

The Barnes and Noble Nook Daily Find is The Digital Doctor: Hope, Hype, and Harm at the Dawn of Medicine’s Computer Age by Robert Wachter for $1.99. The Romance Daily Find is Forever This Time by Maggie McGinnis for $2.99.

Kobo’s Daily Deal is Little Bee by Chris Cleave for $1.99. Kobo is also running several other special promotions for books. First, a Keep kids and teens reading over March Break for $3.99 or Less that is valid through March 14th. Next, two more promotions:  Fabulous Fiction at $4.99 and Under and Buy Any Four Archie Comics For $9.99.  Both of these promotions are valid through March 31st.

iTunes’ Weekly Bestsellers Under $4 includes To Dance with Kings by Rosalind Laker for $1.99.

(A note on Daily Deals: All prices current at the time of posting and subject to change. Most items marked Daily Deals are good for only the day posted.

Many large promotions have discount pricing that is set by the publisher. This usually means that titles can be found at a discount price across most platforms (with iTunes sometimes being the exception). If you have a favorite retailer you like to patronize, check the title on that website. There is a good chance that they will be matching the sale price.)


Daily Links are interesting links I discover as I go about my online day. The frequency and number of links posted depend upon the daily news. I also post other, different links of interest on Twitter and on the Google Plus eBook Evangelist Page.

Daily Links and Deals: Scribd waits until Valentine’s Day has passed, then breaks romance readers hearts

daily_links_1Daily Links for Thursday, February 18, 2016:

Scribd waits until Valentine’s Day has passed, then breaks romance readers hearts (LA Times) – Interesting take on the Scribd situation.

Neverware turns your old PC or Mac into a Chromebook, adds dual-booting (9 to 5 Google) – So, who has an old netbook just waiting to be resurrected?

When phone verification and recycled numbers collide, Lyft leaks user data (Ars Technica) – Wasn’t the phone identification supposed to make things safer?

Appeals court says Apple’s settlement in e-book price-fixing case can stand (Ars Technica) –  No surprises here….

Why are some of the ugliest sites on the Web also the most popular? (The Next Web) –  A look at websites that look like they belong back in the 1990s and why they are so popular.

Hospital pays $17K ransom to get back access to encrypted files (Computer World) – In an update to this story from a few days ago, the hospital has paid up.

Flexible smartphones may be coming sooner than you think (Engadget) – Is five years soon enough?

The 227-Year-Old Statute Being Used to Order Apple to Endanger Your Privacy, Explained  (Gizmodo) – The irony of this is overwhelming….

Deals of the Day:

Amazon’s Kindle Daily Deal includes Neil Gaiman’s Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances for $1.99.

The Barnes and Noble Nook Daily Find is Midnight Robber by Nalo Hopkinsonfor $2.99. The Romance Daily Find is #scandal by Sarah Ockler for $1.99 (clever title!).

Kobo’s Daily Deal is Chasing Darkness: An Elvis Cole Novel by Robert Crais for $1.99.

iTunes’ Weekly Bestsellers Under $4 includes The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl by Timothy Egan for $2.99.

(A note on Daily Deals: All prices current at the time of posting and subject to change. Most items marked Daily Deals are good for only the day posted.

Many large promotions have discount pricing that is set by the publisher. This usually means that titles can be found at a discount price across most platforms (with iTunes sometimes being the exception). If you have a favorite retailer you like to patronize, check the title on that website. There is a good chance that they will be matching the sale price.)


Daily Links are interesting links I discover as I go about my online day. The frequency and number of links posted depend upon the daily news. I also post other, different links of interest on Twitter and on the Google Plus eBook Evangelist Page.

Scribd adds new content limits

scribdIf you are a subscriber to the Scribd service, you’ve probably gotten an email from the company letting you know that it is changing its membership terms. You can read the blog announcement here on their blog,  There are some good articles on the service changes here, here and here.

The bottom line is that new terms severely limit the amount of content that readers can access through the service in a month.

The new membership will allow for reading three books and one audiobook. These monthly reads will be given as credits. Unused credits will roll over to the following month. The membership will also include Scribd Selects,  “a rotating collection of books and audiobooks handpicked by our editors, to which you will have unlimited access.” Finally, membership includes “substantial previews of any book or audiobook” and unlimited access to the sheet music and documents available on the service.

As a Scribd subscriber, I am not surprised. As Nate Hoffelder points out in his post on The Digital Reader, I, too, am surprised that it took so long. While I agree that the service is probably unsustainable as-is, these are pretty radical changes.

When Scribd first started, it was an unlimited book and audiobook service. In June of last year, Scribd cut most of the romance and erotica titles from the catalog. Then,  last August, Scribd limited  audiobook  access to one per month, given as a credit.  Additional audiobook credits could be purchased for $8.95. Ever since the audiobook change, Scribd has been pushing more and more audiobook versions to its members on its Friday blogposts.

Scribd insists that most of its members only read 3 books or less per month and that this latest change will only affect about 3% of its members. If I look at my own use of the service, I usually read about 2 or 3 books a month there. (I also use Kindle Unlimited.) Since the books I read on Scribd are traditionally published, even being  limited to only 3 titles, I still save money. So as a reader, that’s not the part that concerns me the most about this upcoming change.

As a subscriber, I do have issues with the bait and switch aspect of this. Twice within the past year, Scribd has made dramatic changes in its terms of service, changes made without input from the members who use the service.  And I’m sorry, but promoting “substantial previews of any book or audiobook” as a membership feature comes across as disingenuous. Previews are ubiquitous enough not to be considered a feature. Those kinds of actions breed mistrust and make me wonder, what will they change next?

The real deal-breaker for me may very well be the rotating collection. I have pretty eclectic tastes and generally do not like curated collections. I also like to read a book when I want it, not necessarily when it is available. Part of the reason for paying for a service like Scribd instead of using the public library is to avoid the waitlists and checkout time restrictions. A rotating collection adds the possibility of another layer of restriction to my reading, one that I was trying to avoid.

Rotating titles mean the service also has much less value for me as a barometer in choosing and purchasing books.  Since the resurrection of agency pricing, like many people,  I watch the sales more carefully than I did in the past. Sometimes, my decision whether to purchase a book that on sale is influenced by whether or not the book is in Scribd’s catalog. If it is available there, I might pass on a title that I am not sure I’ll like or one that I know I won’t be reading right away. I also read a lot of sci-fi and mystery series, many of which are long and which  I do not necessarily want to own. Checking prices and finding out if the series titles are available in Scribd has, up to this point, been a big factor for me in deciding to start a series. A rotating collection makes it impossible to know whether any  title is likely be in the collection in the near future.

While Scribd is emphasizing that they are not raising prices, it is very clear that the perception of value for the service has definitely changed. It will be interesting to see what this does to the subscriber numbers.What started out as an all-you-can-eat buffet has been pared down to a value meal. My public library is looking better and better all the time.

Are you a Scribd subscriber? How do you feel about the new membership terms? As a new subscriber, would you be willing to sign up under the new terms?