Scribd has announced that they are making cuts to their audiobook system because they are losing money on this particular enterprise. Starting next month they are ditching their unlimited audiobook package and subscribers can only listen to a single title per month. If you want to listen to another audio edition, you have to pay an additional $8.99.
It is not all dire news for Scribd, the company has confirmed that they will offer “a rotating catalog of thousands of audiobooks for unlimited listening” which “are being made available through special arrangements with publishing partners”.
Scribd initially got into audiobooks back in 2014 when they ironed out an agreement with Findaway World to include over 30,000 titles. They expanded their network in April of 2015 with directly fetching audiobooks from major publishers.
This is not the first time Scribd has dialed back on a product category. Last month they got rid of almost 200,000 romance titles, because readers were devouring them at such a ravenous pace that Scribd was losing money.
Scribd is in a delicate position where they have balance a large content category full of comics, graphic novels, e-books and audiobooks and try and make money at the same time. This is something they have been successful at, unlike Entittle who tried to make a go out of it and went bankrupt.
It is not easy for a company to offer an unlimited amount of content and then impose limitations. There will obviously be some consumer backlash, but Scribd needed to do this to stay alive. They are the true alternative to Kindle Unlimited, and no one wants a world where everything is Amazon.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.