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Scribd’s ‘Netflix for Books’ Subscription Model Is Proving to Be Fruitful

January 28, 2019, 2:00 PM UTC

Scribd—a vast digital library of documents, books, magazines, audiobooks, comic books, and more—now counts one million paying subscribers and counting worldwide.

The San Francisco-based company launched in 2007 as an open publishing platform, with many early members using the platform as a free method to upload and share documents online. By 2013, Scribd launched its digital subscription reading service, expanding in 2015 to include audiobooks and magazines.

In 2018, Scribd introduced an unlimited subscription model, which has since grown the paid base by 40% year-over-year. Scribd also boasts that more people are listening to audiobooks on its platform more than ever before, at 100% increase in audio users over the course of 2018.

Scribd has also expanded its digital library and padded its subscription service through bundles and test programs with a variety of other digital publishers, such as The New York Times, Waze Audio Player, and Spotify.

“Scribd has been at the forefront of the digital reading evolution over the last decade, driving incremental revenue to the publishing industry while making the written word more accessible than ever before,” said Scribd CEO and co-founder Trip Adler, in prepared remarks. “As we celebrate this milestone, we’re grateful to our partners for trusting us with their content and believing in our mission to change the way the world reads.”

The subscriber milestone is marks a major turning point for Scribd. Casually characterized by many observers as a “Netflix for books,” Scribd might have more in common with the streaming service than just a first glance. Netflix reached 1 million paid subscribers within four years. Scribd claims to have done the same, using 2015’s addition of more media and content types as the comparison point. Regardless, the growth lends credence to the claim that there is a market for another digital subscription service, this time one geared solely toward written and audio content in a single space.

As of January 2019, Scribd says it now sees 100 million unique monthly visitors, and users have spent more than 190 million hours reading on Scribd to date. Subscribers have access to over 1 million digital books and audiobooks—most of which do not have a time limit or required return date.

And the original bread and butter of the site—user-uploaded documents—is still going strong with more than 80 million pieces of content added so far.

Scribd membership starts at $8.99 per month, with access via desktop and mobile apps.