Readers Are Up in Arms as Scribd Fumbles the Changeover From Its Unlimited Service

986231963_59fde21f30_bScribd quietly switched over to its new, more limited ebook subscription service this week with an update for its Android and iDevice apps, and readers aren't too pleased with the way that Scribd has dropped the ball.

There are reports of users losing access to the ebooks they were reading, all downloaded content being deleted from the app, and of subscribers not getting the monthly credits they were promised.

Under the new system, subscribers get credits for three ebook loans and an audiobook loan each month. Last month's announcement also implied that subscribers would get 3 additional credits, but several readers have taken to Mobileread Forums and the comment section of blogs to complain that the credits did not show up.

"Did anyone else get the "three additional monthly reads" promised in the email. I've just checked and my account shows only 3 monthly reads, I had assumed there would be 6 for the first month if I were getting three additional ones," one wrote on MR, with several other subscribers chiming in.

Scribd's customer service is disputing what the word "additional" meant in last month's announcement, but I have to say that I reached the same conclusion as the subscribers, and that they are owed an extra three credits.

If you still have a Scribd membership, you should complain to Scribd CS and ask for the extra credits. a Couple subscribers have said that they got the.

Alas, there's nothing to be done about the ebooks Scribd removed from accounts. While subscribers knew that they would lose access to some titles, more than a few are dismayed at just how many they lost. "I’ve been going mad with all of the changes. Lost well over 100 books that I was reading in the last 15 months. Most of those lost were read more than 60%," one reported.

While Scribd had never promised to transfer all of the books a subscriber was reading from the unlimited service to the new service, readers are nevertheless dismayed.

There are similar reports on Twitter and at MobileRead forums, as well as one outlier report from a subscriber who says that everything was deleted from his Scribd app:

Bad news about the update though, they DELETED everyone’s offline data. Books, notes, personal documents, audiobooks, etc. They were changing to a ‘new business model’ and did not think through it professionally. The ‘fix’ also ensured that they removed any books customers had been reading under the previous ‘business model’. Not impressed at all. I suggest anyone thinking about updating to refrain if they want to keep their offline data. Deleting customer’s offline data without any notice is not okay. If it had been Amazon people would be seething. They even deleted offline audiobooks I had purchased with credits that were supposed to be there forever. I’m not the only one if you visit twitter, it was across the board. It was a nasty surprise to find myself at the airport without any of my offline data and no internet access. I cancelled. Loved them, told my friends and this is the result to longtime customers? The app update is no onwards movement. Somehow I see this not being published as Scribd is trying to keep this quiet. They tell people to email customer service when questioned publicly to be told tough and given the option to cancel their membership! This is not how you treat customers.

I have not found any similar reports anywhere, so I can't tell whether this report is accurate, a fluke, or an exaggeration.

If you have a similar experience, we'd love to hear about it.

We'd also like to hear what you think of the 150,000 titles in the unlimited section, because the early reports are underwhelming.

So what do you think of the changes?

image by langsdalelibrary

 

About Nate Hoffelder (11174 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: "I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

23 Comments on Readers Are Up in Arms as Scribd Fumbles the Changeover From Its Unlimited Service

  1. While I understand the confusion I think I see what Scribd meant by the three additional monthly reads. They switched over a few days before my billing date. Right after my new billing period I went to my account details to look at my available credits. The 3 that were added from my previous billing period were titled “Monthly reads added by support”. The 3 that were added after the new period say “Monthly reads added by membership”. So the first three are the “extra” that they were talking about. In my case the “extra” 3 were added right at the end of a billing period so they actually did seem like extra. A few days later I had a total of 6 credits. I suspect that if you were only in your billing period a few days when they switched over then it’s not going to be as fair as those who where at the end of their billing period at the time of the switch over. I don’t know if they accounted for this or not.

  2. The plan doesn’t seem like a good deal now.

  3. I had the same experience, all of our apps auto updated (iOS) on the 22nd. We were still using them that day and then in the morning yesterday we find everything is gone. Audiobooks I had downloaded and had used credits for, free documents I had downloaded over the last 18 months and books. Scribd’s response is “too bad” it’s growing pains. Two of our IOS devices were offline -had not been connected to the Internet since the update. They worked until the next morning, they were wiped along with our connected devices. It was intentional. It is not okay for s company to do this, I went and redownloaded one audiobook. My place was lost, all bookmarks gone. That goes for all of the books we could see. Scribd is more concerned about flooding Twitter with fake accounts and hiding what they have done. Scribd is utterly unprofessional. I believe Amazon did that to one customer (not all of them) and they were roasted online. They would not get away with telling people to contact customer service (only to eventually get an unprofessional, days late note that it’s too bad and instructions on canceling. What scribd has taught me as a reader is that publishers have yet to embrace ebooks. I write to publishers asking for new books to be printed in ebook format when they are only published as hard copy. I get rude and often flippant responses about the ebook market. If Hollywood can make money on movies, have people buy tickets and still have a Netflix, so can publishers. Scribd lost my money (and they were pretty blunt they don’t care). Sadly, the publishers make piracy more appealing with every greedy move.

  4. 6:45PM EST, March 24th:
    I just now checked my account, and then hit refresh. “Magically” there are 3 extra ebook credits. At least we know Scribd is listening and making some moves. I doubt they intended the transition to be such a disaster. Not sure what the business/legal pressures were on them, but I can definitely see how much work had to be done to their apps to pull this off, and also the huge amount of followup with authors and publishers to change/augment agreements. Agreed, the changeover is pretty sloppy. I keep hoping they will change the algorithm that “decides” which previously-read books we can keep. It’s all over the place. Some of my books were merely opened and I got to keep them, but others I read over 80%, and still lost. We definitely were lead to believe that we would be allowed to finish books we were not done reading.

    Reconsidering my next move, and watching for any changes to my Library that may indicate the return of more than 80 much-missed books. I was planning to keep my membership, but not if they decimate my Library.

  5. There was an article in Talking New Media (http://www.talkingnewmedia.com/2016/03/22/app-updates-for-publishing-platform-apps-and-more/) on Tuesday about some IOS app update triggered in response to OS changes by Apple. The Scribd app update was mentioned in the article. Has anyone noticed if the problems are worse on IOS? On my Android tablet, I didn’t have a problem seeing credits on my account and all of my books are still there.

  6. I’ve noticed some weirdness–some books I’ve read all the way through but gone back to for reference (in some cases, a lot) got marked as having been read at maybe 10%, and I didn’t get to keep them. Others that I had barely opened are still free. I have looked a little at the previews, and I think they’d be helpful if I were primarily a fiction reader, but my Scribd library was largely for reference and short stories. I did read a LOT of Open Road books there, but Open Road has several Kindle deals every day, and it will be cheaper to watch for those and just buy them.

    I really see this as a big fail for Scribd. If they lose a lot of their current subscribers (including me, probably) then the numbers will go down for the publishers, and they’ll start dropping out. If the big publishers drop out, then more subscribers will drop out and it will be hard to get new ones.

    I’m basically putting Scribd in the category of “fun while it lasted.”

  7. I also noticed last night that support added 3 more monthly reads which brought me to 8 because I had already used one. I’m personally going to stick this out because I still like what they are doing and want to support them. Like any business they are adjusting their business model based on what is needed to stay afloat. As long as they don’t go under or get out of the ebook service then in a year we won’t remember all of this. I’m actually hoping that this change means that even better front list books will be added over what’s been on the service in the past. The way I see it is I get 3 books (more if you include the Scribd Selects) and 1 audiobook for $8.99 which is still a good deal to me. I guess I’m a little more tolerant than most people.

    • @John,
      It’s good that you are trying to stick it out. I am as well. How many of the books in your library are now gone?
      Though I can understand that they need to adjust their business model to stay afloat, I do not support the forced Library removal. Further, I question whether they are really going to pay the authors/publishers twice (once for previous model, and again if I Rebuy a book.) Going out of my way to contact smaller pubs/authors to let them know I’ve read their books via the previous business model, so they can be sure they were paid.

      If my Library is restored, or at least more than 50% of it, I will stay a subscriber. The loss of the Notes and Bookmarks is pretty huge, but the loss of the book themselves is paramount to me. Like others, I was literally in the middle of reading a book when the changes went live, and to finish it, I now must pay again. And like @Molly posted above, many books I was pretty deep into, now show totally inaccurate percentages of Read. Example, several books that I had read 60-90% now show they were merely opened.

      Looking forward to hearing from authors as well about these changes. As it surely affects them too. I dread the fallout from all of these changes, as it appears it will empower Amazon further, and we may see prices go up, ut authors likely won’t get increased cut.

  8. I just checked my Scribe account and I have 8 credits. On the 26th, my new month kicks in. I don’t know if the credits roll over. I hope so. I have months where there is very little time to read and then months with unlimited reading time. Since I signed up a year ago, there have been many changes. With my renewal next month, I will probably cancel if my monthly quota can’t be rolled over.

    For those of us using Overdrive on our iPads, last month’s update wiped out all offline data we had accumulated. I lost many documents, pdf’s and paid books and according to Overdrive, no recourse of recovery. One librarian told me that Apple forced this on Overdrive because of Apple’s monitoring of pirated books.

    As an average viewer with average knowledge regarding everything Internet, this year has been a slap in the face. I don’t know who to trust, how to best protect my data, how not to lose hundred of dollars in lost books.

  9. This change did not affect me like it did you or others. I didn’t build up a huge library of books that I only partially read or wanted to read. I read about 3-5 books at a time and out of the ones that I was in the process of reading all of them were left available to me except one and with that one I had just barely started. Also did not keep notes or bookmarks except to keep place of where I am across devices because their syncing between devices is aweful. So, since I wasn’t using the service the way others were I’m not as affected by these changes.

  10. My experience was that little changed. I read my Scribd books mostly on the web or on Android devices. My account shows 9 book credits and 3 audiobook credits. All of my library books seem to be there. When I see a book I want to read, I add it to a collection and then read it when I get to it. I rarely read more than 3 books at a time on Scribd. For $8.99 per month it’s still a heck of a deal. To purchase those books and audiobooks on Amazon (I still buy a lot of books for my Kindles) and Audible would be at least $30. I will certainly stick with them.

  11. Disappointed at this change. I had a lot of books in my library and was reading them bit by bit at the one time. I logged in last week to find that they had now changed to 10 page previews. Scribd were a very very good service, but now are just like all the others. It will be interesting to see how they are going to be affected by this change in terms of their subscription numbers.

  12. After trying to work with Scribd for the last few weeks to at least get the books that I read 75-99%, and getting nowhere at all, I realize it is time to reach out to BBB.

  13. I think the Scribd changes reflect hypocrisy and betrayal to customers, after advertising they hoped to carry over a million titles and people should read until they drop, now putting in place this ludicrous credit system, to frustrate people. Their “S” selections and 150,000 unlimited books are very stingy. They picked through my library and started putting all the books on the credits system, and even when I asked to see my unlimited access list, I watched one title disappear before my eyes! They need to give it back. They are trying to frustrate people for a power trip. Why offer something and snatch it back?? What a lousy business model. I bet the owner of Kindle is laughing behind his hand at the volumes of business he will be receiving. Scribd has brought about its own ending.

  14. Commute reader // 14 May, 2016 at 4:32 am // Reply

    Umm. Found I lost 13 out of 16 audiobooks, lost three of my outstanding audio book credits. How-to books were removed from my current reading without an reasonable criteria I could discern. Recently published fiction that I was reading was removed. Back list books were left. This was annoying. Plan to cancel just before my next renewal date.

  15. My complaints about the new Scribd would be the 3 credits are for any book, even if it is a book that only costs $1.99 to buy — so if the 3 books I wanted to read only cost $1.99-2.99 I’m paying more to essentially rent them than if I bought them. Another complaint is the so called 150,000 unlimited reads — about 50% of the ones available in my chosen genre are available for free from Amazon or ARE and about 90% of the remaining ones are very short stories (50 pages or less) and, lastly, the audiobook selection is laughable and of no value to me.

  16. Heather, I totally agree with you-my Scribd library was picked clean and this stupid credit system applied. Their monthly list of “Unlimited Reads” is very limited. Their 150,000 free titles are the dregs. I feel punished for trying to read unlimited books as Scribd has invited readers to do. I have offered to pay a higher monthly subscription and even suggested they consider a reasonable monthly ration, say 10 books. All this leads me to believe that Scribd may be in financial trouble. I am begrudgingly keeping my subscription at this time but I feel there will be some more changes on their part soon.

    I bet whoever owns Kindle is laughing behind his hand at the benefit he will gain from Scribd’s situation.

    Thanks for writing,

    Pat

    • Bezos.
      The gentleman who runs the Amazon conglomerate,including Kindle is Jeff Bezos.
      But I seriously doubt he is laughing at Scribd at all. He’s too busy extending the Kindle Indie publishing business models (KDP and Kindle Unlimited) to Indie video to notice what is happening behind his rear bumper. 🙂

      Scribd’s business model of letting others determine their costs is the root of their problems. They need to start licensing titles in bulk for discrete time periods, like Netflix, instead of paying out per read.

  17. I dropped them like a hot potato when I realized how bad the ‘free’ section was, and that basically I could buy three ebooks off of Amazon for about the same price as my subscription, and at least I’d get to keep those forever not lose them when I don’t subscribe anymore! The unlimited book selection is so terrible I can get most of them for free off of Amazon. Pathetic.

  18. I could not agree more. Scribd is cutting its own throat. They picked my library clean, of books that were on my reading list. If they don’t revise their stingy unlimited fare and give more options, including possible subscription rates, they might lose customers by the hundreds.

  19. Well, several months after my initial comment above, I thought I would revisit my experience, which seems to be different than some that others have had. Some people said their libraries had been “picked clean.” That has not happened to me. At the time of the switch, I had more than sixty books in my “library” divided into several different collections and about 4 books open, that I was reading. All of those books in the library remain untouched. I have added additional books to the library and collections and I have opened and read additional books and marked as finished those I completed. My account shows 5 books available with 3 more to come in a couple of weeks on my monthly renewal date and a note indicating I can accumulate up to 9 books. Now I assume that means 9 “open” books, i.e. reading simultaneously, as my “library” or lists of books I want to read remains untouched. If you cost out what those books would be to purchase for my Kindle it would be a lot more than $8.99. So it, IMO, remains a very good deal. I have a Kindle account and several Kindle Fires and the Scribd app for the Fire works quite well, although the syncing to last page read is not as consistent as with Kindle books. So I see no reason to drop my membership.

  20. They removed all my books, deleted all my notes etc. I had upwards of 100 books with extensive notes in all of them. This is devastating and unacceptable.

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