Discussion: The Dark Side of Scribd

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Scribd is a subscription service that has been often referred to as “Netflix for books”. It is a digital library that allows an ‘unlimited’ access to ebooks, audiobooks and documents for subscribers who pay a monthly subscription fee.

Within the past year, Scribd has blown up in the bookish community. I have seen loads of Booktubers (Youtubers who make videos about books) advertise for Scribd and hype their service. And it’s easy to see why: Scribd has loads of content from brand new releases to less known books in both audio and ebook format. Audiobooks have become wildly popular lately and Scribd is one of the only services that promise an unlimited amount of material in exchange for a very reasonable cost. In contrast, the most popular audiobook service, Audible, charges more than Scribd for a month and you only get one audiobook. And in addition to the audiobooks, loads of ebooks are available as well.

Sounds pretty amazing, eh? Yep I thought so too. I started using Scribd too but it didn’t take me long to discover that Scribd is not actually unlimited but it is “unlimited”. This is a discussion post of whether Scribd is worth it or if it is basically a scam. I’ll first tell you my journey with the service over the last 3 months and then I’ll dive into the discussion bit. Is Scribd really the service we want or is it designed to leave you frustrated and angry?

My feels about Scribd in a gif:

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My Journey with Scribd

I started my 30-day free trial in Scribd in July. The selection available was mindbogling. I was gaping in excitement when I saw the latest releases I had been dying to read already in audiobook format, and Scribd promised an unlimited access to all of it! I was in a book-lover’s heaven.

heaven GIF

I rushed to place loads of titles in my saved list to listen to when I had time. In fact, I added 65 books on my list and I started listening to an audiobook straight away.

I didn’t notice many problems in Scribd during my free trial. Some books in my saved list became unavailable, but I thought that I had simply failed to notice that they wouldn’t be available quite yet when I added them to my list. Overall I had a great time with Scribd in July and I listened to 4 audiobooks: Poppy War by R.F Kuang, Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire, Binti by Nnedi Okorafor and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid.

As a student, I needed some time to think whether I should commit to a subscription with Scribd or just keep on relying on my library’s very limited selection. Then I noticed that Scribd would give me a free month in exchange for referring a friend for a free trial. I’m awful like that so I referred my husband, which I understand is really bad and I shouldn’t do that. He signed for a free trial, and we shared the usage of Scribd for the next 30 days. He is not a big audiobook person though, so he did not listen to any entire book.

During this, very unacceptably sneaky, trial, I listened to Seanan McGuire’s second book in the Everyheart a Doorway series, Down Among the Sticks and Bones. Right after I had finished, I failed to find any of the books I was planning to listen to next. I searched for them and nothing came up. Then I realised that I could find the books if I searched by the name of the author, went to that author’s page and then looked at the titles the author has on Scribd. Soon I realised that all but two of the books I had wanted to listen to were unavailable. Conveniently for Scribd, the books would only come available a day after the trial would end.

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Scribd you’re such a little NNHHHGGN

I was annoyed. I ended up listening to Hunted by Meagan Spooner in Scribd, although I had that title available through my library as well. But I couldn’t find any other audiobooks that were even mildly interesting.

On the 27th of August, my husband’s free trial for Scribd came to an end. Earlier I had received an email from Scribd stating that my next month would be free of charge because I had referred someone to the service.

Disclaimer: Again, I basically abused the referral system by referring my husband. But to be able to discuss Scribd as a service and because that’s how my blog works, I’ll always stay honest.

I resumed my own Scribd subscription as I was supposed to get a month free of charge. I listened to two audiobooks at the same time, All Systems Red by Martha Wells and The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell. While I listened to the last chapter of Last Magician, I was browsing my saved list to decide on what to listen to next. Then the minute I finished The Last Magician, every single audiobook in my saved list became unavailable. I mean every single one of those 60+ audiobooks. All of the titles said that they wouldn’t be available until the next billing date. How convenient for Scribd.

I took screenshots of all the unavailable titles in my list on 31st of August, here they are in all their unavailable glory:


So how can Scribd say that their service is unlimited when they make all popular titles unavailable after you have listened to one or two of their books? Well I wanted to find out so I emailed Scribd. I was pretty emotional and frustrated and my tone clearly shows it, here’s a snippet of my email:


Yikes. Am I always that angry when I’m complaining? I promise that I was much nicer in the following conversations with Scribd.

Here’s what Scribd responded:


So basically what Scribd is saying, is that they ‘adjust the availability’ of books when necessary due to contracts with publishers. Sounds completely fine but I felt that this is not the case in reality.

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If publisher contracts are driving the availability of books in Scribd, then books only from a certain publisher should become unavailable after finishing a novel. If popularity, however, drives the availibity of books, then the most popular of the books should become unavailable after I finish a book. Both of these conditions are unrelated to the fact that I have a book in my saved list. My hesitation to Scribd’s response comes from the fact that I had so many books on my list. Some of them would be bound to stay available if the availability was controlled by either publisher contracts or popularity or both!

I wanted to test whether Scribd’s statement had any sense to it and I deleted all of the 60+ books from my saved list. I reckoned that if Scribd was being honest and clear about everything, then all of the books should stay unavailable for me until the stated date. The fact that I want to read that book (the book being in my saved list) should have nothing to do with contracts.

Interestingly, a day after deleting everything from my saved list, this lil friend pops up available:


Let’s play some Where’s Wally? Can you find Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire from the huge collection of unavailable titles above?

This means that the unavailibity of titles is indeed somehow related to whether the user wants to listen to that book. I emailed Scribd again, patiently explaining the results of my little investigation and asking them to explain exactly how Scribd works behind the scenes. Here’s the response:


In other words, Scribd is controlled by an algorithm that makes certain books unavailable after a certain limit that you cross by using their “unlimited” service. The books are selected by author, genre, publishers and probably also popularity and your interest towards that book. It is an “unlimited” service because Scribd will always have something available that you can read or listen to. That something might be the bible or a random classic in Spanish. But hey, there’s something available so it’s unlimited!

After all of the above, I noticed that Scribd had billed me on the month that was supposed to be free of charge. I wouldn’t have continued the service if I had known that they wouldn’t give me that free month so I sent yet another email to Scribd about having been charged for a free month. Scribd answered by refunding the month and closing my account entirely, 3 weeks before the supposed end of my free month.

martin freeman sherlock GIF

I was actually relieved after all the emotional turmoil I had gone through with Scribd, now it was over. You know it’s really annoying when you’re shown an opportunity to read that new release that you have been dying to get a copy of, only to see it as unavailable two days later.

Nevertheless, I was confident that I wanted to share the entire journey because I constantly saw everyone, everywhere recommending Scribd without discussing the bad aspects to it. And on that same day, I saw Destiny @ Howling Libraries (go check out her blog, she’s amazing!) update on Twitter that she is also annoyed at Scribd for making everything unavailable. I shared my experience in the comments and discussed with others how Scribd is basically scamming us by saying that their service is unlimited.

A week after the conversation in Twitter, Scribd responds to my comment with this:

I received another email from Scribd soon after, filled with apologies. They told me that they would give me a three month free access to Scribd, and right after I received an email from Scribd that my account has been reactivated.


The Discussion

Is Scribd really the Netflix for books? Netflix allows you an unlimited access to all of their movies, tv-series, documenteries and so on. The only limitation is your area; the same content is not available in the US and the UK. But no matter how many series you binge-watch, Netflix will never make any of the series unavailable.

Scribd works kind of like Netflix in the way that it also has area limitations and not all of the same titles are available in all countries. But as detailed above, Scribd has another, major limitation. After a certain number of reads, you will no longer have access to any of the popular content in Scribd.

Think about it if that happened in Netflix; you’re re-re-re-re-rewatching Friends on Netflix and you’re planning to dive into the Good Place next. You’re so excited, everyone has been raving about it. But then you watch an episode too many of Friends, and the new Netflix algorithm makes loads of titles unavailable because the cost of your subscription doesn’t cover that much popular content. So the Good Place is suddenly off-limits and your Saturday binge-watching marathon is absolutely ruined. To be honest, if Netflix did work like this, it wouldn’t be anywhere near as popular. Why? Because as emotional beings, humans get unbelievably upset when they are promised something nice only to have that nice thing made unavailable.

I have deduced that in Scribd the availability of ebooks is not affected by your audiobook listening and vice versa. I tested this by checking the list of All-time Bestsellers in Scribd with both my subscription (that already has 98% of audiobooks unavailable, thanks Scribd) and an incognito window without logging in. The below picture shows the audiobooks I see as ‘All-time Bestsellers’ (on the left) and the audiobooks that are listed as bestsellers in the incognito mode (on the right). I included the first 6 books and also books 9-12.


What’s going on here? I looked up the first book on my “bestsellers” list and it’s christian fiction with only 174 ratings in Goodreads. I find it hard to believe that it would make the top of the Scribd list. All the others on the list are very random as well, and most of them are very religious. I included the books 9-12 because Binti by Nnedi Okorafor is #12 in my list. That one is actually really popular but guess why it’s available? Because I have already listened to it in Scribd. Now if we compare the left side to the right side, we can clearly see that the incognito list of bestsellers are actually bestsellers. I just can’t access any of them and that’s why Scribd doesn’t even show them to me.

When I checked the ebooks similarly, I found that the incognito betseller list was identical to mine because I haven’t read any ebooks in Scribd.

My guess is that all audiobooks are available until you listen to about 60% of one or, if you happen to be really lucky, two. Similarly, I think the most popular ebooks are available until you read about 60% of two ebooks (I think 2 is the limit because ebooks are cheaper). This means that Scribd is not unlimited but that doesn’t mean it is totally useless as a service.

If you read ebooks on your tablet, laptop, computer or mobile and you listen to one or at maximum two audiobooks a month, Scribd could perfect for you. Scribd is cheaper than most audiobook services and you get the access to ebooks too which is not included in services like Audible.

I read ebooks on my kindle, and Scribd’s ebooks are not compatible with it because they need to be read in the app. I also listen to about 4 audiobooks a month. To me or to a person like me, Scribd is probably not the way to go. Although they have a good selection of books, their collection is not as rich as Audible’s and they are quick to limit you to uninteresting books. Check whether Scribd’s selection is enough for you, and if it is, you can use it to cover some of your audiobook needs. If it is not, consider subscribing to Audible and following their daily audiobook deals, they often have good ones.

I am not writing this post to say that Scribd is terrible. They are not (and their customer service is pretty awesome). But I’m calling them out for not being honest and straight-forward in their business model. In my opinion, it would be best for them to disclose the numerical limits of reading in their service and allow an option to ‘top-off’ your account with an extra charge mid-month to make all titles available again. That’s a service I would pay for, not the one Scribd is running now.

As I mentioned, I was given an access to three-months by Scribd for free. I am using the service because as a student audiobooks are difficult to afford. But I am definitely treating it as a ‘one book a month’ kind of service instead of an unlimited one.


This is a super long blog discussion, sorry about that!! But I wanted to tell you all about my experience with Scribd and I felt like I should include the long story in its entirety.

What is your opinion about Scribd? Do you think it is right that they do not disclose the conditions of their “unlimited” service? Is it a scam or a bookaholics wet dream?

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I would love to hear your opinions and experiences with Scribd! Where do you get your audiobooks?

I’ll hang around waiting to see if Scribd will revoke my free subscription for making this post haha.

Thank you so much for reading!

– Pauliina



74 thoughts on “Discussion: The Dark Side of Scribd

  1. I have seen so many people having this issue and it truly baffles me because I’ve never encountered this problem and I have been subscribed to them for months. I don’t listen to a whole lot of audiobooks I’ve one month but I have listened to 2 or 3 in a month as well as read ebooks and I’ve never had any of my titles become unavailable.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh that’s really odd! You must be very lucky, or maybe its related to the actual titles that you listen to? Would you notice if titles became unavailable (I only mean that I only noticed because they were on my saved list, I wouldn’t have noticed otherwise)?

      Liked by 2 people

    • I was looking for answers about this issue and I found this and is really disappointing how Scribd is working. it happens that I saved on my list 11 books for my school and all of the sudden all of my books disappear and say that are not available until a month later. what a waste of money.


  2. Definitely sounds like a scam. If Netflix did this people would riot. Thankfully my library uses OverDrive and Libby and has a pretty decent collection. This was a great and important post!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, I’m so glad that you liked it!! It’s always a bit scary to make a huge post criticising a big company but I really wanted to make it.
      My local library uses OverDrive as well, but I think the libraries themselves purchase titles via OverDrive and I have very little audiobooks in there. Loads of great ebooks though!
      Yeah I definitely think Scribd is doing a bad job by advertising their service ‘unlimited’, they could just be upfront about it and let the readers make the decision of whether its worth it. I bet they are losing a lot of people who are frustrated because of this!

      Liked by 2 people

      • I have a similar experience. For example, I was reading a graphic novel and suddenly the last part is unavailable to me until my next billing date. The exact date. Give me a break.


  3. I’m so glad this was so in depth! From what I heard, Scribd sounded like a really good service, like who doesn’t want a Netflix for books? Especially as I couldn’t justify the Audible subscription, so I’m glad I’ve read your experience with it because this doesn’t seem all that worth it either! We will have to wait a bit longer for our Netflix for books option then

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m so glad that my post helped 😊 I was so excited for Scribd do actually be unlimited when I first signed up, which just makes it even more disappointing when I found out that it’s not the case 😕 I hope we get a Netflix for books one day!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for writing this article. I’m thinking about signing up for the free month in order to listen to a Mercedes Lackey book that my library doesn’t have in audio format.
      I have Kindle Unlimited, and even though I can “check out” up to ten books at a time, it doesn’t have a good selection in their “free” library of authors I read. They do have a number of unknown or little known authors that I have found I enjoy. Also, sometimes in a Kindle Unlimited (free) book, you can get the accompanying audiobook for under $2. Most often, if there is an audio book, it is about $8. When the book is free, that is still a far cry from the $14 I would be paying on Audible.
      Like you, my local library is limited in its audiobooks – which is frustrating. It helps that I can also. use my sister’s library card. She lives in a different state from myself, but both our libraries use Libby. I live Libby! My sis-in-law, who isn’t a big reader, and who lives in yet another state, let me borrow her card, but her library uses the “Cloud Library” app which I find to be frustrating to use.

      Too bad Scribd doesn’t run it like a public library, where you just get on the waiting list for popular books. Anyway, I think that would solve the problem with the publishers AND at least give subscribers and idea where they stand on books they want.

      I’ll prob still get my free month from Scribd, but I’ll know what I might run into. Thanks for the warning!



  4. Pauliina this is such an amazing and thorough post, thank you so much for this! I’ve been considering a free trial but wanted to wait until this NIGHTMARE ended… at this point I am thinking a free trial to see if audiobooks will ever work for me may be good but this service seems shady as hell.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aw thank you so much Kaleena! It’s definitely a shady service, and I just hate it that they are not up front about how their service works. Maybe you can still get a free trial with them and cancel at the end of the trial just to try it out? But I really hope that Scribd would change how they run things 😕

      Liked by 1 person

      • Just today I cancelled my subscription after experiencing almost exactly the same issue and after several emails to their support. The only difference is they didn’t answer my emails for one month and on same day my subscription was paid for the next month and when my saved titles became available again.
        Scam is the correct descriotion.


  5. This is such a great discussion! I saw Destiny’s tweet about Scribd awhile ago, and had heard some other sketchy things about it, but I didn’t really know why. It definitely seems so sketchy, and I should probably stay away haha

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much 😊 Yeah, I just hate it that they are not up-front about how their service works. If Netflix did this, it would cause a huge riot! I can’t imagine myself re-subscribing to Scribd either if they don’t change their service a lot, I get way too upset about all the unavailable titles haha 😅

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve never tried Scribd but have heard of it and browsed around a bit. It does seem their definition of the word “unlimited” is highly technical and somewhat deceptive. That’s a really frustrating algorithm since you apparently never know what it might do, what books are considered popular, what books might suddenly become unavailable to you. Thanks for sharing your experience, but sorry it was such a mess!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I totally agree and I hope that maybe they will change their algortihm a bit more reader friendly when their customers start to be aware of this issue. Thank you so much for reading and commenting 😊


  7. I only now got to read your post, but I have to say that it’s super detailed and well written – so I really appreciated it! 💗 I have recently finished my two month free trial of Scribd and have struggled with some of the issues you’ve pointed out (and that I have seen a lot more frequently mentioned on Twitter) :/ In my first month – once I had listened to 2 audiobooks – suddenly all other audiobooks got restricted and while I had more lucks with the ebooks, some got restricted as well. However, in my second month nothing ever got restricted despite me using the service as much as much as the month before, which was nice but also weird. Bottom line is that I don’t trust Scribd. They advertise unlimited reading, but a lot of users get these restrictions and I really dislike that they have no transparancy about their restricting. I really wish they would work something out, as this issue seems to be happening a bit random and still frequent, so I’d never really invest in their service … because I would be pretty mad if I paid and then sometimes got to read a lot of their books and then always having the fear of them restricting titles. It’s a mess 😮

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much ❤️❤️ I totally agree, simply making their service more transparent about the limitations would help a lot! No one likes to be tempted by unlimited books just to get arbituary limitations on them. I think they have a great selection and all is good when you happen to be lucky enough to not run at many restrictions but I would also get way too annoyed with the limitations if I paid for Scribd. 😅

      Liked by 1 person

  8. This was a really detailed post regarding Scribd usage. I’ve been using Scribd for about 4 months now i think and I’ve never had a book or audiobook show up as unavailable for me. I’ve listened/read about 8-10 works each month and had no interruption.I think that i don’t read the popular books that i dont have this problem. Also ive heard from some people on audiobooks if you don’t download them than they don’t count against you. I’ve never dowloaded i just listen to them through the stream so i wonder if that affects the read count. Still if they market themself as unlimited and do this it is really horrible and unfair

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s so fascinating! I always download the books that I’m listening to because I don’t have unlimited mobile data and I usually listen on the go, but now I’m very intrigued to try this out myself to see if my books stop turning unavailable! I definitely agree that even if it works it doesn’t excuse Scribd’s lack of transparency with users but hey, let’s try all the tricks and tips 😂 Thank you so much for your comment! I’ll definitely try this out and see if it changes anything to me 😊


  9. Scribd claims that you can listen to unlimited number of audiobooks, yet after finishing several books you get a ban, because in their opinion it is unusual that you have finished several books and want to listen more. For Scribd it is normal (usual) only if you listen to a couple of books per month. They will shut you down when you are in the middle of a book. Very nice.


  10. I love the service but I do hate how shady that is. I’ve read about 40 books in 4 months and have never had this problem until this month. There’s not date for the books to become available so maybe I just got unlucky with the last two series. Both are the last book so it’s really what sent me to look for information. Still worth it but I really wish they had series linked together better so you would know before starting. I hate the search feature.
    That being said I have literally never listened to an audiobook in my life and I tend to stick to more dated fantasy/ epics and don’t even look at the bestseller lists. I just finished all but the last of the throne of glass series and the bone witch series. I’m sure audiobooks “cost” more.
    They should just do tiers or something, Avis readers really wouldn’t mind paying a little more for better access, I mean I was spending at least this much a month on series before I found Scribd.


    • Hi! It’s 2020 but I am so happy to have found your blog on this still. Unfortunately it was too late for me as I have been experiencing the same thing on my account. And it’s so frustrating!! I was really happy being able to read a lot again through Scrbd so really encountering all these issues was so well, frustrating and annoying. Unsubscribing now. Thank you again!!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m glad you found your way here 🙂 But so frustrating that this is still an issue, Scribd should definitely fix it and make their service more transparent! Glad I could be helpful, no point in wasting your time in frustrating book services!


  11. I couldn’t agree more. This type of practice constitutes false advertisement and consumer protection acts, among other things. State DAs should investigate Scribd and press charges against the company to force it to disclose the limits conspicuously.


  12. Something to add to this, if you listen to less popular books, you can get away with a lot more of them than if you listen to popular ones. For example, I’ve been re-visiting the Narnia books in audiobook format and I got through the first 6 of them plus a Robin Hobb book before anything became unavailable. Both Narnia and Robin Hobb aren’t necessarily hot topics at the moment. So it seems that if you don’t listen to the new releases or the super popular ones, you get away with more of them. However, the fact that they’re not upfront about this really annoys me and it’s that more than anything that determined me to not continue past my free trial.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s really interesting! Definitely worth knowing, Scribd might be more worth it for listening to blacklisted titles then 🤔 the lack of transparency is still very annoying! I feel like they would get many more customers if they were simply upfront about their service 😅


      • Yeah, I agree. They should just say from the start. It would still be a better bargain than Audible. But this just makes me feel cheated and nobody likes that.

        I do wonder whether if you don’t save the books, you might trick the algorithm a bit. You might not be able to binge series, but you might be able to listen to books you’re interested in back to back if you don’t actually tell Scribd what you’re interested in.


  13. Hi,
    It’s June 2020 and this is still an issue with Scribd. My husband signed me up for a 1 month trial as a Mother’s Day present. I enjoyed 2 books “Children of Virtue and Vengeance ” and ” Unforgettable” and am halfway through, a 3rd and noticed that all of the books on my saved list are unavailable until the day AFTER my billing date. This seems to only be the case with audiobooks as I can still read e-books. So frustrating!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. July 2020 and still happening exactly like you said ..1st day a bazillion books then I start listening to one now all I get is not available until next month …and error try again or contact support …this is not cool at all all my saved list dissapeared…

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Hello! thank you, thank you, thank you for this really detailed post. I was going to subscribe to Scribd as English books do not come by easily in my local library, English being a foreign language here. If Scribd works as you say it does, it is not going to serve my needs. However, I will give it a try, keeping my eyes open for what you have mentioned. I have heard of some companies, namely the ones like Uber doing the same. So apparently, it is something prevalent. Thanks again

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Im so glad I found this post. I was about to pay for the entire year because I was loving that scribd had all the titles that audible didn’t have. Just like your problem, after finishing a couple books I started searching for other titles and they all had disappeared. When I finally found them, they all had “available until date”. I couldn’t find a reason for it because it says unlimited so I though it was weird. I googled this problem and your post showed up. You just saved me from making a huge mistake. Scribd does not give you what they advertise. Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I am upset with Scribd as well but for different reasons. Once my free trial was completed, as expected, my card was charged monthly. One month, I didn’t realize, via COVID, my card was declined by mistake. Once cleared, I told SCRIBD, I tried to update payment but it would not let me; not because my card was declined, but it has to do with things on their end. Now they tell me to go through Apple and begin the process all over, free trial but now, I will respond to Apple if I have any concerns. Anyone else had these issues? They are not worth the issue.


  18. […] Frantically, I stabbed ‘Why have books disappeared from my Scribd account?’ into Google, and was distraught when I discovered this wasn’t a case of a glitch in the system…no…it was how the bastard company worked. I don’t think I’ve ever been so disappointed. Bookaholic Dreamer said about the disappearing books: Scribd is controlled by an algorithm that makes certain books unavailable after a certain limit that you cross by using their “unlimited” service. The books are selected by author, genre, publishers and probably also popularity and your interest towards that book. It is an “unlimited” service because Scribd will always have something available that you can read or listen to. That something might be the bible or a random classic in Spanish. But hey, there’s something available so it’s unlimited! You can read more about her experience in her excellent post The Dark Side of Scribd. […]


  19. I’m having the exact same issue with them right now. I’ve been using their paid subscription for close to four years now. I’m a heavy user, I listen to around 5 audiobooks a month (I’m a school librarian and since covid I’m doing a lot more mundane tasks since we can’t have class visits), and since I started listening to more my saved list is automatically unavailable once I finish my second book. I contacted them about my issue and got the run around. When I called them on that he said he would be happy to help me with cancelling my subscription. So there you go. They truly don’t care if they keep people around.

    I deleted my saved list (after taking a screen shot of everything). We’ll see if my books are available to me aid the next couple days or March 30th.

    It’s really too bad, they used to be such a great service.


  20. I was a few chapters in to a book that suddenly disappeared along with almost everything else on my listen list. I was so excited for this service and spent so much time adding things to my list bc I miss going to the library so much. Then they are all unavailable for a month?! No way. Cancelling.

    I really appreciated your post so I know I’m not alone and that it’s their shady practice.


  21. I have a different issue with Scribd, which is that it has allowed a man to upload a self-published book which pagiarizes a book by me. And then they create a video to promote it, so as to sucker people in on the “free” month. I posted my concerns, but these were promptly deleted by Scribd. I think they’re a really slipshod, shady, operation.


  22. Long time scribd user – it’s my favorite subscription. Originally the post was written in 2018 so maybe things are better (or worse) but wanted to give a voice to the people who love and use the app all the time. For me it’s enabled me to always find something to read or listen to at a fraction of the cost of any other service I could find.
    For people who are on a budget I’m not sure if there’s a more convenient option out there, and though I’m in the minority of the comments here, I do continue to happily pay, love and recommend scribd to friends on an almost weekly basis.


  23. Thank you for this post! It’s September 2021 and I’ve been paying the monthly subscription to Scribd for about 6 months or so. I’m listening to Agatha Christie audiobooks when I do my house chores. I cannot estimate a number of audiobooks per month. Today I had the very unpleasant and frustrating surprise of getting this message: “We couldn’t find what you’re looking for… Please try searching for other interests, titles, or authors”. My husband, though, trying an anonymous search on Scribd from his PC, found all of the audiobooks they “couldn’t find” for me. I feel this is (to put it mildly) dishonest for Scribd, since Youtube does the same thing with audiobooks but WITHOUT any subscription being charged. I don’t know if Scribd’s limitation is necessarily linked to the popularity of the materials or to the user’s interests, as their choice of words in the suggestion above indicates. But what I feel extremely frustrated with is precisely their dishonesty as you very well pointed out in your post.


    • This is the same experience I am having! I am so frustrated! I use probably 5-6 audiobooks per month as well and I all of a sudden cannot find ANY authors I prefer! None! Have you found a better option for audiobooks?


  24. Thanks for this post! I’ve been a huge Scribd fan for a few years and never ran into this problem…until I did. Earlier this year, this exact same thing started happening to me and it drove me nuts. The available books it was showing me were truly horrendous options. I thought maybe it was because my kids had been listening to audiobooks on my Scribd account and maybe collectively we were using up too many “credits”…so I opened another account. At first I could see lots of options, and then after listening to a couple of books, there were virtually no options available to me. I’m sooo frustrated. Scribd was the best and I depended on it a lot, and I feel like it’s been ripped away from me. 😭

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Thank you for posting this. It would be so much easier if Scribd was just honest about their service. I listened to two books and now am being shown only obscure Librivox recordings in their Top Charts list.
    I’m going to stick with it for a while to see if it improves but I resent their dishonesty. I also resent the fact that they’re essentially exploiting the free labor of Librivox volunteers to cover for promises they can’t deliver.


    • Damn straight..Love the Tyra GIF concerning
      SCRIBD’s annoying habit of taking books away until the following month. They use an “algorithm” theory to do so which is supposed to be an explanation we can’t possibly up understand,so that maybe we will be too ashamed to keep griping.
      They add that there are plenty of ‘ other titles to choose from’ in the interim,but for the most part they are lame books or libre vox which we can get elsewhere.
      But I stick with them because it is still the cheapest option out there.sigh……


  26. Hi thanks for the post, can we download more books in advance to avoid becoming them “unavailable”?
    Also Netflix can be used by 5 people with basically 5 separate accounts you cannot do this here… or can we? I know it can be shared to 3 only but afaik it uses the same account right?
    Also what other book subscription service could you or anybody recommend with a lot mainstream books and account sharing option?
    Thank you and everybody.


  27. Thanks for sharing! I am sooo annoyed by Scribed right now. I read/listen to a LOT of books and I was so excited to find Scribed. I had 70+ books saved. Literally all of them – besides four – are now “unavailable”. And any books I search for (half of them I can’t find), are unavailable until the 27th. All of the genres that I read/listen to in are…sadly lacking at the moment. *sighs*


  28. OMG I am so glad I found your post (thanks for the good sleuthing). I have been subscribed for a couple years now and I just now caught on to this. I thought it was weird the selection suddenly became so slim. A couple months ago the same thing happened. The first time I figured they were going through re-licensing agreements, or something along those lines. Then it happened again a few days ago and I thought the same thing… even though it had just happened. However, something in me was like “somethings not right because all the available books are either A. unknown (i.e. 34 ratings on goodreads)… B. Scribd originals… C. books I have already listened to “, so I googled it. I don’t think I ran into the problem often enough in the past to catch on because I used to use my library audiobook service as well, but I do remember one time two years ago I finished the first book in a series and went to listen to the next and it was suddenly unavailable. I didn’t think anything of it and never ended up finishing the series because time passed and by the time it was available I had lost interest. I’m so mad at them right now, but I can’t cancel anytime soon because guess what? Back in August I noticed a $99.99 charge on my card and checked it out. It was from Scribd. I was on a monthly auto re-new, but without notice (unless I missed an email) they charged me for the annual subscription. I had been paying monthly for two full years before they decided to do this. I know the annual price is a better deal, but I never consented to the change. I could email and complain, but I think I’ll keep it until my subscription is up. Side note: I checked the date to see when all the books I want to listen to become available again and it is 11/18… same day of the month as what used to be my monthly renewal. Thanks for allowing me a place to vent. My mom will get an earful tomorrow lol. I wish I had a popular BookTube channel to scream from the rooftops the truth about Scribd. On the off chance Scribd finds this comment, they should know I will no longer be recommending their service and am truly going to look for a better, less shady service.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It is totally a shady practice. I found this awhile ago when I was having issues with my books disappearing and I subscribed to comments. ha.

      I’m not sure if your library offers them but I am shocked how many good, new books are on both Libby & Hoopla. I feel like when I looked into them a few years ago, there was not much content through our local library but that has changed! I find so many good things there. There are also larger library systems that will let you pay a fee to access their e/audio books through out of town memberships.


  29. Thanks for your truthful discussion. I do appreciate that. Scribd sounds like fraudster to me… they make us want to pay them more just for the “unavailable” books that are actually available.. I am disappointed and planning to rate them with one star in Playstore..


  30. A close friend of mine is a recently published author and I was surprised to find her book on Scribd last night. She had no idea that it was available there, and I was concerned that there may be a copyright violation so I took it upon myself to research it. In the process I found this great post, but before this I found what I think may explain the maddening experience that you and your readers have had.

    It seems that Scribd has agreements with publishers and possibly others in the distribution channel that allow Scribd to distribute books. My author friend self-published and has no idea which of the various parties in that process made her book available to Scribd (but will find out). I’m sure she’s not alone.

    In any case. Scribd’s FAQs for authors state that “when a subscriber reads a certain percentage of your book, you get paid as if you had sold the book in an ebook retail store.” The percentage isn’t specified and I’m guessing may vary by distribution partner.

    So @paulina, when you suspected that something happened after you hit 60% of a book you probably nailed it. At some point you triggered a royalty payment which immediately made your free trial anything but free to Scribd. Now play this out when you start paying: Knowing what my friend is paid for each copy of her book, the month in which you read it your $11.99 subscription would immediately become unprofitable to Scribd.

    It stands to reason that to limit their loss on your account, Scribd will immediately limit you to titles that have much lower or no royalties. Since royalties per book are all over the map, this might happen after one or more reads past the trigger percent of each book.

    When companies run unlimited subscription models, they often assume that some customers will be unprofitable in some or all months, but enough will be light enough users to make the business profitable as a whole — an arbitrage of sorts. Managing profitability at the individual customer level like this seems smart for the company’s P&L, but it does wind up with the terrible experience you’re having and the risk that it backfires over time.

    Of course, all of the above presumes that my guess at what’s going on is right, but if so, this certainly doesn’t appear to be a fair use of the word “unlimited.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh that is so interesting! If they were up front about that, then maybe that would be acceptable. But like you said, then it’s not unlimited like they say. And calling it unlimited & not clearly explaining their process to customers makes them feel like a scam.


  31. Definitely false advertising and deceptive trade practices that continue into 2023! My saved list virtually disappeared, and having read this insightful blog I decided to try my own experiment. When I was signed in the search term ‘military history’ returned 151 titles, most of which were garbage; when I signed out and immediately searched the same term 20375 titles were returned. In other words, over 99% of titles within this search term became unavailable until the company has extracted next month’s payment. That is not going to happen as I choose not to support deceptive business practices.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Hi. Good article. I’ve used Scribd over a year and have only had what you described happen one time. I use it for audiobooks only. I have listened to six or seven books by the same author. After that, the next several books in the series that had been available showed up as not available until over a month later. Confusing, but I assumed it was because of something like what you have described. Thanks for explaining why this occurred.
    I’ve neen able to get approximately 90% of the books I want on Scribd. For me, it’s the best deal out there for audiobooks. Audible costs way too much IMO. However, I totally get your point and think Scribd should be more clear on limitations in the service.
    Have a great day.


  33. I wonder if unavailability is related to popularity? I happened to sign up with Scribd looking for relatively obscure non-popular stuff, namely academic type things, and when you can find it, it seems usually to be available.
    On the other hand, my problem with them is that the search tool is close to useless. I think you mentioned that putting author names in can help, and that squares with my experience, but doesn’t help all that much if you are looking for things *about* an author who many many people have written about. Putting a title in, even in quotes, doesn’t seem to help at all. Hard to believe that it’s possible to have such a primitive search tool in 2023, unless, again, it’s done on purpose.
    So that’s my little, semi-relevant rant. Just curious if others have the same experience.


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