scribdWhen I hinted at a Scribd update post a couple of weeks ago, this wasn’t the one I was planning on writing. I’d been thinking something along the lines of “Loving the service but can’t warm up to the app.” Then the folks from Scribd reached out to me, and I had a fantastic chat with Jared Friedman, CTO of Scribd. He listened to my gripe about the app and said things would be fixed. (And, although he probably didn’t realize it, corrected my pronunciation of the company. I’d thought it was a long “i.” It’s actually short.)

Both the iOS and Android apps were updated last week, and while I didn’t notice much difference in the iOS app, the Android app was much improved. They fixed two of my biggest three concerns. Which means I’m changing the focus of this article.

The service still isn’t perfect. The .epub files have all the odd formatting problems I’d planned to write about, and they are distracting enough that Scribd won’t be my main source of reading material until they’ve been fixed. Friedman said they were a bug on their end and said they would be fixed. I believe him, and I know that sort of thing can take time.

Here’s a screen shot so you can see what I’m talking about. See the odd line break? I admit I’m fussy and others might barely notice them.

My bigger gripe, lack of full screen support on Android, happily, was fixed. As was the font size gradient. Previously, the two choices were “not big enough” and “way too big.” I can now find a size that works for me, although they probably want to add at least one size increase for those with eyes older than mine. (The iOS app, still has the font size issue, by the way.)

So, while I had planned to cancel my subscription before the phone conversation with Friedman, now I’m keeping it. The app still has a way to go. It’s lacking some basic features like two-column landscape mode and ability to highlight, take notes or look up words. Those who are particular about the features in an ereading app are probably going to feel like they are driving a Yugo, but it’s serviceable.

I still like the selection, and I’ve already changed my buying habits. If I see a book I’m interested in, the first thing I do is check for it in Scribd. Obviously, I’d like them to acquire more content, and Friedman assured me they are working on that. But for $8.99 a month, I can’t complain too much.

I am concerned that they will be like Netflix and that books will be removed from the catalog before I get to them. (My reading list grows daily.) The first time that happens, if it does, will be an unhappy day. But I’ll worry about that if it happens. Until then, I plan to settle in with some good books.


  1. I’ve been using Scribd (as in “scribble”) since this latest subscription launch. I am finding it reasonably good value so far. I agree the formatting is a serious issue. It’s not just the line breaks: anything with a little special formatting is messed up. I find myself using both the Android version and the Windows desktop in “book view”. That triggers problems in font sizes: four is not enough with huge jumps in the middle from tiny to huge.

    As for content, it’s supplemental to my public library, and individual titles I will buy elsewhere (such as Kobo or Kindle). I am finding it helpful for exploring non-fiction especially where I am gathering info on a topic as opposed to wanting to read a specific book or author. In the same way Netflix can deliver a genre but not a specific title, but still bring entertainment value, so does Scribd have value.

    But they do need to address the formatting / display issues to hit prime time.

    • @Alexander, and I always thought it was as in “scribe.” Scribble makes sense.

      Have you updated your Android version with the one that landed in Google Play on Friday? That fixed the font jump issue for me.

      I agree it’s supplemental only, for the moment. Although I hadn’t paid much attention until now, apparently I like Harper Collins’ thriller/mystery line-up, but for fantasy, I’m still a Tor girl.

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