Scribd and Audible are both platforms offering audiobook subscriptions, but there are significant differences between the two. While Audible exclusively focuses on audiobooks, Scribd provides access to books, audiobooks, and PDF documents. Not all of this material is what you would read for leisure, but it does provide access to millions of files, while Audible has a library of 100,000 plus titles, and many of these titles are on bestseller lists.
If you’re looking for an audiobook subscription, which one is best? Here we’ll compare Scribd vs. Audible to help you make your decision.
The Advantages of Audio Books
In this age of gadgets and technology, it would be easy to think that audiobooks and audiobook platforms are just another gimmick. However, this is not the case. While audiobooks are technology-dependent, they do offer some fantastic advantages.
- You can listen to an audiobook at any time, so you can enjoy the latest page-turner while you’re doing your laundry, cleaning your home, or even driving to work.
- You don’t need to worry about space in your home, or making room on your bookshelves.
- Audiobooks also allow you to enjoy a nighttime read without needing any lights, so it can help you to wind down after a long day without becoming overstimulated.
- Many audiobooks are fantastically narrated, which can add interest and enthusiasm to your story. This can help you to feel more engaged with the story.
Audible is a highly-popular option that has earned a top spot in many reviews. The basic plan allows you to receive a credit that you can exchange for an audiobook. There are also plans that provide more credits if you are a keen reader, including annual plans that offer immediate access to 12 or 24 credits rather than needing to wait for each calendar month to bring another credit. These options are more expensive initially, but if you’re a committed listener, it can alleviate buying anxiety.
While many other audiobook subscriptions allow you to borrow the books, Audible downloads are yours to keep, so even after you cancel your membership, you’ll still be able to access the books through the App.
One of the reasons why Audible is so popular is that it has a massive store. Audible is owned by Amazon, but you don’t need to have a Prime membership. However, Prime members do receive free, exclusive content, and the brand name Amazon provides an assurance of quality audio production. Audible has access to the newest releases and most popular titles, so there is a very good chance that the latest offering from your favorite author will appear in the library.
Audible has a free downloadable app that is easy to navigate and well organized. There are customizable settings to adjust playback speeds and sleep timers. The search function is also more detailed than many other sites, which is highly useful if you’re looking for a book you want to read. You will also receive recommendations for similar titles.
One potential area for concern is the Digital Rights Management of Audible. It has drawn criticism from some users as it limits the number of devices that you can use to share or even play your audiobooks. You can share downloaded books with your family, but you need to register the members of your household with your Amazon account.
Audible has innovated the way to listen to audiobooks. You can switch between audio and ebook versions of the book, sync it with Amazon Alexa and Whispersync for Voice. Audible also has a Good Listening Guarantee, which allows you to return audiobooks that you don’t enjoy, this can alleviate purchase anxiety and frustration about “wasted” credits. You can flag up issues with the 24-hour customer service, and returns are removed from your library and credits restored.
Audible Key Features
- There is a choice of over 200,000 audiobook titles, including new releases and popular titles.
- You can download audiobooks over Wi-Fi or mobile data to your device.
- The App allows you to view audiobook details, bookmarking, adjust narration speeds, chapter navigation, and rate your audiobooks.
- You can multitask your background downloads and listening.
- Switch between listening and reading with Whispersync for Voice.
- Great returns policy; you can easily return your audiobook if you don’t like it for any reason, and you will receive an immediate credit.
- Excellent customer service; Audible offers phone support and live chat, do quickly deal with any issues immediately.
- You can keep your audiobook even after you cancel your Audible membership.
- You can rollover your credits
Scribd offers a more varied package; your membership fee allows unlimited audiobook, ebooks, magazines, document and sheet music access (restrictions may apply on some titles). However, the audiobook library is currently at approximately 70,000 titles, which is far less than Audible.
If you’re looking for the most popular books of the year, you’re likely to only find about half of them in the library, so if you want the latest book from your favorite author, it is not the best platform for you.
The Scribd website looks good, but it isn’t as intuitive as many other websites, as it needs additional menus to help navigation through different areas of the website. Additionally, if you end your membership, you lose access to the books you’re listening to. However, Scribd does have recommendations, suggestions, publisher summaries, and customer reviews to help you find a great read.
You can also add books to a wishlist, so you can visit them later, with a five-minute audio clip for each book to help you make a decision. Since Scribd isn’t solely audiobook content, you do need to watch what you’re ordering and look for the small audio symbol, or you may end up getting an ebook rather than the audio version. The Scribd app does little to assist with this confusion. You can select new books from the app, but it is a little challenging to navigate, and there are some features, such as sleep timers missing.
Like Audible, Scribd does have Digital Rights Management to protect against piracy. You can only use three browsers or computers to listen online in any 24-hour period. You can also download onto four different devices.
Scribd doesn’t offer phone support, but there is a responsive email system and a thoughtful FAQ page, but it is harder to return books. You need to have a documented error, such as content missing or a bad download to make a return, and it needs to be done within 30 days of purchase. As you’re limited to one audiobook per month, this can lead to anxiety that you make the right choice to avoid wasting your allocation.
Scribd Key Features
- Scribd is a solution for reading enthusiasts allowing access to millions of audiobooks, ebooks, music, and magazines.
- Scribd established an unlimited reading policy, making it a great deal in the ebook reading industry.
- After the trial period, you can gain access to unlimited titles that can also be read offline, if you have no internet access.
- Scribd has worldwide access through your computer or the app, but the service can be blocked by local governments in certain countries.
- You can browse using the website or mobile app.
- There are articles from popular periodicals, including Time Magazine, Esquire, Men’s Health, and Entertainment Weekly.
The Content Formats
As we’ve touched on above, Audible is purely an audiobook service, while Scribd has a broader focus. Scribd has approximately 60 million documents, including PDFs, research papers, and sheet music. However, the Scribd audiobook library is limited to approximately 70,000 titles, which is far less than Audible.
So, if you’re purely interested in audiobooks, then you may not find Scribd as useful as Audible, but if you also enjoy ebooks, magazines, reports, and other media, you may prefer Scribd.
Audible has an extensive catalog of audiobooks, with more than 100,000 titles, but Scribd doesn’t have an official number of titles in its library. This means that you may struggle to find the latest releases or popular titles that are readily available with Audible. Audible also has the Audible Originals program that are audiobooks that are exclusively created for Audible, and they are not available elsewhere.
Scribd takes more of an approach similar to Netflix; they license books for specific times, which is different from Audible, who give you ownership of any books you download. This allows you to listen to the audiobooks you’ve downloaded even if you cancel your subscription, which is not the case on the Scribd platform.
While Scribd does have millions of files, Audible is more likely to have the titles you want, and you’ll have ownership of them forever.
This area of comparison is less subjective than the content formats and availability. Scribd audiobooks are restricted to a 32kbps bitrate, while Audible has audio quality that is noticeably better. While 32 kbps is “standard,” users can choose for 64 kbps, which is higher quality. Although these numbers may not seem like a big deal, 32 kbps is a baseline for music quality, but audiobooks are completely different. Unlike music, audiobooks don’t carry complex sounds; it is typically a single narrator with occasional sound effects. Additionally, audiobooks are far longer than songs, running for ten hours or more. A high bitrate is a waste of space, but a low rate does introduce a noticeable degree of distortion. The 64 kbps higher quality files just sound so much better.
Subscription services like Netflix have spoiled us a little in recent years, as they provide a great deal of premium content at a flat monthly rate. Scribd works in a similar way, with the Scribd unlimited. This is charged at a flat monthly rate ($8.99) and provides unlimited access to the Scribd non-premium titles. You can also choose one audiobook and three premium books per month.
Although this lacks the unlimited content offered with Netflix, you still get access to a lot of content. Three full-size books per month is more than ample for most readers, particularly if you choose longer books.
It is obvious that the Audible subscription plan costs more ($14.95 per month) than a Scribd membership. This only allows you a single book credit each month and two further Audible Originals each month. However, Audible does offer access to more titles, excellent customer service, and a great returns policy. You can return any book even if you’ve already read it in the past year, no questions asked, you just need to select it in your Purchase History, and it will disappear from your library, and your credit will be refunded.
If one title is not enough for your voracious reading habits, you can choose the Premium plan ($22.95 per month), which provides two credits each month, any more credits will cost you $14 each, which does seem steep. However, it is worth considering that while Scribd allows you to read the books, with Audible you own the books. So, while you can still enjoy the Audible audiobooks even after you’ve canceled your subscription, you’ll be locked out of Scribd the moment your subscription ends.
Both Scribd and Audible have geographic restrictions on content availability. This means that you may struggle to find the titles you want if you don’t live in the U.S. However, since Audible is owned by Amazon, it does have a slight advantage, as it is officially available in numerous countries outside of the United States, including New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Ireland, Switzerland, Germany, Japan, the U.K., and India. This does mean that there is a possibility for local books and cheaper pricing. So, if you are outside of the U.S., you may find that it is more cost-effective for you to buy Audible titles in your home country, rather than using the main U.S. site. However, you may find that the catalog in other countries and regions is far smaller than the U.S.
While both Audible and Scribd are pitched as audiobook subscription platforms, they have unique benefits and potential drawbacks, so they appeal to different users. Audible has a sole focus on audiobooks, and while it can be paired with your ebook collection using WhisperSync for Voice, it is not aimed at those who enjoy other media.
Scribd is more of a well-rounded platform offering access to ebooks, magazines, PDFs, and other documents. Scribd does have a massive document collection, but the audiobook selection is far smaller than Audible.
So, if you are just interested in audiobooks, Audible has a much larger library and access to new releases and popular titles.
However, if you enjoy ebooks and other documents, Scribd does provide a more varied choice, but you will struggle to find the latest audiobook titles.
Audible takes the edge for newer, hotter titles, but neither Audible or Scribd has a limited library. Audible also has higher bitrates and better quality, but you do pay a premium for this, as the subscription charges are far more than Scribd.
Tips to Maximize Your Audible or Scribd Pleasure
Regardless of which platform you choose, there are some tips to help you maximize your listening pleasure.
- Invest in Good Headphones: A set of noise-canceling headphones can block out any background noise, so you can focus on the story you’re listening to. This means that you can enjoy the audiobook while the rest of your family are watching television or while you complete your household chores.
- Reduce the Volume: If you’re trying to wind down before you go to sleep, try to reduce the volume of your device to lower stimulation.
- Use Your Night Settings: Set your device night settings, so that the screen will dim and won’t interrupt your sleep. Even if you’re listening to the book, you may need to look at the screen if you need to pause the story.
- Come Back to it Later: Remember that you can pick up your audiobook again at any time. So, if you’re struggling to concentrate while it is playing, pause and come back to it later.
- Use the Sleep Function: Set the player to turn off to avoid listening too long.
- Choose Wisely: Even if you’re using Audible and have access to a great returns policy, think about your audiobook choices wisely. Just like browsing a book shop before you make a purchase, look through the book profiles to find a title that really interests you, so you can get maximum enjoyment.