I love nothing more than a good book. Now, there are so many ways to read – or listen to – a book. One method that has become super popular recently is the book subscription service–whether that's ebook or audio books. And in that respect, the battle's boiling down to Scribd vs Audible.
Amazon’s audiobook platform Audible has been going gangbusters recently as audiobooks have become more and more popular. And the other market disruptor is Scribd, which offers a Netflix-style subscription to books, audiobooks, magazines and more.
In this article, we’ll look over both platforms and see which one is the best for you.
In this article, you will learn:
- Audible vs Scribd side-by-side differences
- How much does it cost to use both Audible and Scribd and what they include
- How do they compare in feature sets and looks
- Which platform is the easiest to use
Heads Up: In this article, I used affiliate links. That means that any purchase you make will earn me a little money. Don’t worry, this won’t add any costs to you or impact my decision. But it will help with my mild coffee addiction–so thanks if you do.
Table of contents
- Audible Vs Scribd: Major Features
- Scribd Vs Audible: Minor Features
- Pros and Cons of Audible vs Scribd
- Scribd vs Audible: Final Score
Audible Vs Scribd: Major Features
When you compare any two services, especially those that have slightly different offerings, there’s always a lot of noise. And both platforms offer a lot of features that the other doesn’t.
So, I broke these into two groups: Major Features and Minor Features. Major features are what I consider the most important things you’ll want to compare, such as pricing and the range of books. Minor Features are those I believe could be useful to some but aren’t most likely make or break for you.
With that said, let’s start by looking at four major feature differences between them and see who comes out on top.
Scribd vs Audible
|Value for Money|
|Range of Titles|
|Range of Audiobooks|
|Ease of Use|
While they’re both membership platforms, Audible and Scribd offer a drastically different price structure. Here’s how I like to think about it. Scribd offers a Netflix-style subscription, whereas Audible has a plan that reminds me of the membership program at my local Indie bookstore.
Audible has a range of different plans that start at around $15 dollars a month. These memberships offer at least one audiobook of your choice and one editor-selected book every month along with access to Audible podcasts.
Audible also has a “channels” membership tier which only enables you to Audible’s exclusive content like podcasts but no audiobooks. Another bonus with Audible’s pricing structure is you can get heavy discounts on any additional purchases made that month.
Audible’s plans are far more expensive than Scribd, which offers a flat fee of $9 a month.
So, if you’re looking at finding the cheapest option, Scribd is the one you’re looking for. $9 a month is almost too good to be true, or literally too good to be true, as we’ll discuss later on in the “value for money” section.
So, who wins in the price department?
Winner of Price Comparison: Scribd is the cheaper of the two options.
2. Best value for money
Okay, so we already know that Scribd is the cheaper option. In fact, it is almost half the price of Audible! But let’s look a little deeper at what you’re paying for. Scribd offers a Netflix style approach to books where you have “unlimited reading” for the entire month for only $9, with no lock-in contract.
I’m not going to lie, when I read that, it sounded a little too good to be true. This is especially the case as I know authors receive a standard commission every time their books are read; One of my buddies was telling me that every $2.99 book he sells via Scribd, he earns $1.78 in royalties. To me, the numbers didn’t really add up, so I investigated further.
Looking through Scribd’s terms and conditions, I found this little piece of information that raised an eyebrow:
Our members can always read an unlimited number of books and audiobooks each month but, occasionally, we have to limit the titles that you’re able to access within a specific content library in a 30-day period. If you’re only seeing a preview of a specific title, you should also see a notification of exactly when that book or audiobook will be fully available to you. – Scribd website
There’s also more information about this here on Scribd’s help pages.
This aligns with forum comments I’d read about the service. While you can read or listen to an unlimited number of books every month, Scribd limits what books their platforms show you. Usually, showing you cheaper books. This is, I assume to keep costs at a reasonable level for Scribd as they have to pay authors every time we read their books.
It’s kind of like if Netflix had to pay a film company a DVD rental fee whenever someone watched a movie. They’d be losing money hand over fist.
So, if you’re expecting to get all the new releases or read the entire New York Times bestseller list for $9 a month, you’re mistaken. Scribd will limit the books you have access to. Compare this to Audible, where you can download any book from the platform and receive a heavy discount on any additional books you purchase. However, if you’re just an avid reader and don’t mind your book selection being limited, you’ll still find value in Scribd.
Another thing I don’t particularly love with subscription services like Netflix and Scribd is that you don’t own any of the content, you’re just paying for access. Unlike Audible, where you own every book you purchase. Even if you cancel your subscription, those audiobooks are yours.
And Audible has a huge library of audiobooks which you can purchase and a bunch of great free podcasts.
Winner: Audible, by a considerable margin for me. Although if you’re not too picky about the books you read, you may find Scribd decent value. Scribd also offers a bundle with the New York Times for around $13 a month, which is pretty cool.
3. Best for a range of titles
Regarding the range of titles and our Scribd vs Audible battle, it is a bit of a no-brainer. While Audible offers a large selection of audiobooks, Scribd offers a lot more:
- Snapshots (book summaries)
With over a million titles, Scribd has something for everyone on every platform. While Audible is branching out with some high-quality podcasts, they still aren’t offering enough to compete with Scribd in regards to the sheer options they have.
If you’re a reader who likes a bit of everything and enjoys eBooks along with audiobooks, Scribd is the easy choice.
Winner of range of titles: Scribd, by far
4. Best for Audiobooks
You can probably tell by now that Scribd is more of an all-rounder service, whereas Audible specializes in audiobooks. And in good time too, the audiobook market is growing 24% a year, with no sign of it slowing down soon.
If you’re looking for audiobooks, then Audible is the market leader. With over 450,000 titles to choose from, if it’s available as an audiobook, odds are it’s on Audible. I also find that, in most cases, the book quality on Audible is far better than any regular eBook retailer. My theory is that while anybody can upload a Word document to Amazon… creating an audiobook is a lengthy and expensive process. This extra barrier to entry means that only the best titles make the cut.
While Scribd offers audiobooks, their selection is nowhere near as great as Audible’s.
Winner for Audiobooks: If all you’re looking for is audio-content, it is an easy choice. Audible is hands down the best service for audiobooks
Scribd Vs Audible: Minor Features
Okay, so we compared what I think are the key elements of Audible and Scribd. However, there are some features that aren’t game-changers for me but can impact your buying decision.
There are many more differences that I haven’t mentioned in this article. Both platforms offer a different experience and, in part, solve a different problem.
Ease of use: Both are very user friendly. However, I have found that Audible offers a far more intuitive user experience. Which, being owned by Amazon, makes sense. (Winner: Audible)
Content ownership: I touched on it earlier, but with subscription services like Scribd, you don’t actually own any books. The books stop when you stop paying. Whereas you own every book you purchase with Audible. (Winner: Audible)
Offline access: Both services offer an awesome offline mode. All you have to do is download the title when you’re online and you can listen anytime you like. I always do this before flights. (Winner: Tie)
Mobile access: While both have a mobile app (who doesn’t these days), I have found in my experience and reading customer feedback that the app for Scribd can be buggy when listening to Audio. (Winner: Audible)
Pros and Cons of Audible vs Scribd
When making any purchase decision, I like to weigh up the pros and cons of both options. When you’re considering signing up to either Audible or Scribd, there’s a bit to talk about as they’re actually very different. This isn’t like me comparing online course providers, where they both share the same target market.
Pros of Scribd
- With Scribd, you have access to Audiobooks, eBooks, magazines and book summaries
Over a million titles
- Netflix style pricing system that has you paying a particular monthly fee
- Cheap monthly price (only $9)
- Offline access
- A free mobile app
- A one-month free trial
- No lock-in contracts
Cons of Scribd
- A smaller selection of each content type. While a million titles sound like a lot, that becomes smaller when divided between eBooks, audio, essays, magazines, etc.
- You don’t own any of the content that you read
- Scribd limits the particular books you can read in a month
Pros of Audible
- The best selection of audiobooks online
- Great free podcasts
- An editor-selected book every month for free
- You own all the books you download
- One-month free trial
- No lock-in contract
- Easy to use mobile app
- Offline access
- Added discount (usually 30%) on additional purchases
- All new releases come to Audible seeing it’s the market leader
- A “no-questions-asked” return policy
Cons of Audible
- The price isn’t ideal for those who want to listen to three or four books a month
- Only offers audio content
Scribd vs Audible: Final Score
In the end, here is the score:
Scribd Major Feature Wins: 2
Audible Major Feature Wins: 2
Scribd Minor Feature Wins: 0
Audible Minor Feature Wins: 3
For me, Audible is the clear winner between the two services.
However, it really depends on what you’re interested in. If you’re not an overly heavy reader and would get through one or two books a month, then you will definitely find value in Scribd. You’ll have access to a decent selection of books in a range of formats. You’ll also have magazines and summaries you can read as a part of your subscription. Scribd also offers ebooks and audio, which Audible does not.
For more info on Scribd, check out our full length review.
However, if you’re an avid reader like I am, you’ll probably want something a little more robust. For example, I love reading stuff from indie authors and have Kindle Unlimited, which I use regularly. So, for me, adding Scribd is pointless. Whereas I often want a good audiobook when I’m driving or at the gym. For me, Audible is perfect.