File this under “We had to know this was coming.”
Susan’s already covered the main points of this story, but as the resident Scribd fan, I felt like I had to say something. As much as I love the service, I have been concerned all along about the sustainability of their business model. The recent announcement confirms the concern is justified.
Last year, I was reading reviews of Scribd on various romance sites and all of them said basically the same thing: “All you can read romance? Sign me up!” I’ve always been curious about the percentage of Scribd subscribers who signed up primarily for the romance. My rough guess has always been 50% or more, which, if I’m right, explains the problem.
The Scribd model only works for Scribd if subscribers limit their reading, which kind of defeats the purpose of the model for readers. I’m disappointed but not surprised by the announcement. As I’m not a heavy romance reader, it doesn’t affect me personally, but I understand why readers and authors are angry. Lots of subscribers have been announcing that they will or have unsubscribed. (I haven’t, by the way.) It is ironic that the probable majority of readers who are unsubscribing (romance readers) are the ones which were causing Scribd to lose money. No, I’m not saying that was their intent. Just commenting on the irony.
We’ll see what the future holds for Scribd and other subscription services. I think they are ultimately the wave of the future, but I’m not sure we’ve seen anything close to a final form yet. While Kindle Unlimited is likely to be more sustainable, I’m not convinced it’s the final answer either.
Maybe I’m just overly optimistic, but I do think Scribd and Oyster will figure something out and remain in the subscription business, just perhaps not in the same fashion as they are operating today. I plan to keep my subscription as long as it’s valuable to me and available.