After adjusting its subscription model in 2016 to limit the titles available to its subscribers, Scribd, the online reading service, is now returning to its original terms. Beginning February 6, Sribd will again offer readers access to an unlimited number of books and audiobooks for $8.99 per month.
Scribd co-founder and CEO Trip Adler said the service has reached a level of profitability and stability that allows it to return to its original business model. According to Adler, Scribd generated more than $50 million in revenue in 2017, and has over 700,000 paid subscribers. Adler said subscribers were growing by 50% each year.
In 2015 Scribd cut back on the number of romance titles it offered claiming, at the time, that it needed to adjust its model because of the voracious reading habits of romance fans and over-consumption by other "power readers."
The next year Scribd abandoned its unlimited access model, and set a limit on all subscribers of three books a month and one audiobook. Even though Scribd is now returning to its original model, Adler acknowledged that “some controls will remain in place” to limit particularly heavy consumption by a small percentage of its subscribers.
Because Sribd monitors reading rates, the company can detect whether "over-consumption" is occurring. If it is, Adler explained, new controls will kick in to limit power readers’ access to the most expensive and popular titles. Adler did emphasize that, even if this occurs, power readers will continue to have access to a wide variety of content.
“We’re profitable so we can go back to the original model and pass along [some of our] revenue to our readers, authors and publishers," Adler said. Although Adler acknowledged that the company will be "a little less profitable" under the unlimited access model, he still projected that Scribd’s 2018 revenue would continue to grow.
Describing the unlimited access model as an ideal "book discovery experience," Adler said one of Scribd's main goals has always been to "keep reading alive and thriving in the 21st century."