Scribd: No More Unlimited Audiobooks

Scribd Nothing Gold Can Stay
Photo credit: Scribd

I received an email from Scribd late yesterday informing me “some of the audiobooks in my library would be expiring soon.” Curious, I went to the site and saw that MANY of the audiobooks in my listening queue had an expiring banner, in particular the new releases. Looking into this further I saw a letter from the CEO on the Scribd blog announcing a change to the audiobook plan:

Today, we’re letting you know that we’re going to be transitioning our audiobook service to a credit–based system. Starting on September 20, you will receive one audiobook credit as part of your monthly subscription to use toward any title in Scribd’s audiobook catalog.

It’s disappointing to me that they are moving to a credit-based model, and especially that the company did not inform subscribers of the change directly. (It was quietly announced on the Scribd blog Friday night) I guess unlimited listening for $8.99 was too good to be true!

Scribd does state that there “will be a a rotating catalog of thousands of audiobooks for unlimited listening.” So you could use your $8.99 credit for one paid audiobook and then keep listening to the free titles in the catalog. You could also pay an additional $8.99 for more audiobook credits. I think at that point it’s the better deal to get an Audible account where you can own the audiobooks you buy, take advantage of their great member sales and enjoy their superior app.

I have been kind of a Scribd cheerleader on this blog and wrote a post celebrating the audiobook service. Many of you have taken advantage of the free trial offer here (I am not a Scribd affiliate and get no incentive if you join) so I feel an obligation to give an update on the service. I am seriously bummed about this news! Now I know how Romance fans felt when Scribd slashed their Romance catalog.

The change takes effect September 20 so listen to all your expiring books before then if you can! Maybe the unlimited audiobook catalog will be appealing but I’ll have to wait and see if I keep my subscription. I have only used Scribd for audiobooks so it’s not attractive enough for me to stay with this new model.

Here are some other Scribd alternatives:

Your public library! It’s free; you can use the OverDrive digital library or check out physical audiobooks. I put new releases on hold so that they will auto-checkout with the release date. I use WorldCat to find which library has the audiobook I’m looking for.

Amazon Whispersync for Voice – Some Kindle books can be matched with audio companions for a discount! Go to Amazon Matchmaker to see which of your kindle books can be matched with audio.

Audible – Get a free credit when you join and choose a membership plan that works for you. The one-credit plan is $14.95. There are also great audio deals on Amazon matchmaker (buy the kindle book and get a discounted audio companion) plus member sales. – They also have a $14.95 one-credit plan and an app,

Downpour – Membership is $12.95 and gets you one DRM-free audiobook download or you can rent audiobooks for 30-60 days for $7.95.

Highbridge Audio and Tantor Media – They have frequent audio sales for downloads and CD’s.

What do you think of Scribd’s new audiobook plan? And let me know your favorite places to get audiobooks! 




29 thoughts on “Scribd: No More Unlimited Audiobooks

  1. Lauren says:

    I too am so disappointed about these changes 🙁 I really enjoy Scribd and there selection was fabulous, now I’m so upset because of the amount of expired titles that are in my feed. I surely won’t be able to listen to them all by then! I’m going to wait and see what the choices are for the unlimited audiobooks but I agree, I think that Audible is a better deal because at least I will own the paid for audiobook! Thanks for sharing this sad news with us because it was definitely kept as quiet as possible by Scribd!

    1. Lucy says:

      Yup Lauren it is really disappointing 🙁 Hope you are able to listen to a few more titles before they expire. It does seem very shady of Scribd to have kept this news from subscribers.

    2. Emilio says:

      I totally agree Lauren. I am trying to finish a few of my audiobooks and likely will cancel my subscription. I enjoy audible and that I own and can listen on my MP3 player sansa clip. If Scribd had that, I might stay, but not owning them is a high negative.

  2. Wow! This is so disappointing to hear- that was even the MAIN reason why I chose Scribd over all the other services…

    I frequently turn to Scribd when I need an audiobook because it fits my book- budget. This is so sad… Like you said, too good to be true… I too am curious to see what the unlimited choices are but something in my gut tells me that they will only circulate really, really old audiobooks, might probably even be classics 🙁

    Thanks so much for sharing!

    EM @ Books and Iced Coffee recently posted: Bout of Books 14.0 Challenge: Character Soulmates Challenge
    1. Lucy says:

      I wish that Scribd had been more open about their business model. Like, what are they going to take away next?

      Sadly, I don’t have a lot of hope about the selection for the unlimited audiobooks either.

  3. Well damn. I’ve actually just been getting into audiobooks and podcasts–though mostly for non-fiction, admittedly; I like to luxuriate over my fiction–so I didn’t even get a chance to try Scribd while it was unlimited. I heard about the romance purge earlier, as well.

    all this makes me wonder if there’s something wrong with their business model. As much as I hate to say this as an author, the businessman in me suspects they might be paying out too much every time one of their books is read (or listened to). Which, erh, isn’t a great sign for an unlimited subscription service.

    Though I guess it isn’t unlimited for audiobooks anymore. Damn.

    1. Lucy says:

      I agree Stephen-I guess the model isn’t sustainable for Scribd when audiobook fans and Romance readers consume more than they’d budgeted for. Wish that they would have figured that out earlier 🙁

      I hear podcasts are really great- I’ve been meaning to add some to the mix.

      1. I’ve been listening to the Time Ferriss Show, and have heard good things about The Moment With Brian Koppelman. WTF with Marc Maron is pretty widely liked as well.

        Like I said, mostly non-fiction. I usually listen to them while cooking, because I find them easier to pause than an audiobook.

        Stephen W. Gee recently posted: Rejection, the secret place, & fundamentals
  4. I think it’s excellent of you to highlight this because I’ve seen a few bloggers like yourself do posts about the service because of its unlimited model. It’s unfortunate that it’s changed, but it will be interesting to see what kind of titles are still in the unlimited element! R x

    Rachel (Confessions of a Book Geek) recently posted: Review: I’ll Meet You There
    1. Lucy says:

      It seems that all of the exclusive audiobooks don’t come up in search results anymore so the audio choices that you see are the “unlimited” assortment:

      I can see some of the “exclusive” audiobooks only in my listening queue with an expiring banner.

  5. That is so obnoxious. I mean, I understand the need to make money and be profitable, however, I think there should be transparency. They should be up front about changes in business, especially when it is the customer’s dollars who fund the bottom line and these days it is so easy to just take your business elsewhere.

    1. Lucy says:

      I think that’s what bothers me the most- that Scribd wasn’t up front about their business model. Netflix has a similar model but you don’t see them pulling titles off the site the same week they added them or making you pay an additional monthly fee for some movie titles. I just wish they’d done their homework first, and like you said be transparent about the whole thing.

  6. bookworm says:

    That’s too bad. I haven’t tried Scribd, but I use my library for free audio books. It’s a great alternative.

    1. Lucy says:

      It’s hard to beat free! My library has a really awesome selection so I’m glad to have that option too. I just love the Audible app though.

  7. hetboekenik says:

    I was kinda mad when I read the message. Feels like I’m losing something…

  8. Megan says:

    I Must confess, i am gutted. As a homeschooling mother we have loved sitting in the car listening to many audiobooks. I would have prefered to have options like; a $20unlimited subscription or levels of membership.
    I am sad that we won’t be continuing

  9. […] *Check out my 8/21 update at the bottom of this post about the change to Scribd’s audiobook model. And I go into more of the details here.  […]

  10. I never signed up for this but I have to agree that it’s pretty disappointing. At least with Audible you can still access your books after your subscription is done. I don’t usually go for subscription services for this very reason. It probably has something to do with the licensing deals the company makes with the publishers, etc. For me I don’t listen to a ton of audiobooks so the library is the most sensible choice for me and the selection is usually pretty good. I hope you can listen to all of your books before they expire!

    fishgirl182 @ nite lite recently posted: Review: When a Scot Ties the Knot by Tessa Dare
  11. Antoniya says:

    I could have written this post. I have been bragging about scribd for a year and have convinced many friends to subscribe. With the new change to the audiobook service, I am not sure that the monthly subscription is worth keeping any longer. I had noticed the expiring books as well and found out about the change in much the same way as you. As of today, however, it isn’t just the books that are expiring. I went to my audiobook collection, which has some 250 books and now each and every audiobook in the collection has an exclamation point in the top left corner, which when clicked states that starting September 20 that book (i.e. all 250 audiobooks in my collection) will cost one credit to listen to. So I am not sure what the thousands of free books are going to be, but I am willing to bet that they will either not be worh listening to or be in the public domain to begin with.

    I agree that it was too good to be true. Seriously considering cancelling my subscription.

    Thank you for your post!

    1. Lucy says:

      Thanks for commenting, Antoniya, and I agree that this situation is such a bummer. It’s likely I’ll cancel my subscription before Sept. 20 rolls around. I just loved Scribd and it’s so disappointing that it didn’t work out.

      At first it seemed that there would still be an acceptable amount of “unlimited” offerings, but like you said- I noticed that basically everything in my queue has that exclamation point warning 🙁 Agreed that the “thousands of free books” don’t seem to be up to the standard that we are used to.

      Hope that another audiobook subscription service crops up and saves the day!

  12. Kristin says:

    I think it is a big deal to go from “unlimited” to “1”. I’ll be dropping my Scribd membership–I already have a 2 credit Audible membership so I’d rather fill in my month with a cheap book from there and/or from the library app.

    1. Lucy says:

      And at least with Audible you get to keep the book, even if you cancel your membership. It makes much more sense to use the library or Audible going forward. It’s too bad because I loved the audio selection on Scribd.

  13. Prianka says:

    Any idea where we can find a list of the free unlimited books going forward??

    1. Lucy says:

      Hi Prianka, I don’t see the list of “free unlimited” titles yet. I’d check back on Scribd on September 20 when the new credit system kicks off.

  14. Pam says:

    Cancelled my Scribd sub this morning with much regret. Just doesn’t offer value for money for me anymore.

    Pam recently posted: Facebook and gambling sites
  15. Joe says:

    I waited until the new policy took place on Sept. 20th. I then perused the “unlimited” portion of the website. Totally worthless. I cancelled my subscription..

    1. Lucy says:

      I cancelled too. Really disappointing selection. It was fun while it lasted!

  16. sodapopp says:

    i missed the unlimited audio book thing but mainly joined for sheet music, comic books and books. doesnt bother me 1 audiobook credit a month, the amount of guitar tab/sheet music is an amazing deal instead of dodgy non legal alternatives

    1. Lucy says:

      I’m glad Scribd is working for you! I never thought of looking for sheet music there. The library is keeping me well stocked in audiobooks now 🙂

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