Recently, we announced that Scribd had added audiobooks to their subscription service. They also implemented some tweaks to their mobile apps. While I still love the service, I’m not wildly enthusiastic about the changes or the audiobook implementation.
Let’s start with finding an audiobook. While I have never had a problem finding an eBook I wanted to read in Scribd, I feel like I struggle when looking for audiobooks. The site uses the same discovery system as with eBooks, and with over 30K audiobooks available, you’d think I’d be able to find something with ease. Not so much. Let me point out a few problems.
Scribd uses trending titles, top authors and editors’ selections to help guide you to a book you might like to listen to. That’s fine if you agree with those recommendations. But what if you want to find something different? Half-way down the Fantasy collection, you get this box.
Oh wait. That’s eBooks, not audiobooks. Oops. So where’s “Browse all audiobooks?” That would be this small box at the very bottom of the screen.
I’d prefer to have an “all audiobooks” option much closer to the top of the page, large enough to stand out.
I do like that they add a small audio icon to the book cover to indicate there is an audio version available. Once you learn to look for that, it does help. Unless, of course, the audio version and ebook are by completely different publishers, like in this instance:
However, on a personal note, that’s a happy discovery. I’ve been meaning to read the Brother Cadfael series for years. 🙂
Once you find a book, listening to it is straightforward. Add it to your library, open it on your device and download, if you prefer not to listen to it streaming.
Note that if you’ve been using the Scribd app for a while, that’s a new location for the “Store to device” option. It did take me a little while to find it. The folks at Scribd tweak options often enough that a user’s guide to what’s new would be helpful.
To listen to the book, just tap the play button. Note that you don’t have quite as many options as you do with, say, Audible. The Audible app has a widget, and shows up in the Notifications area for easy starting and stopping. While I can start and stop Audible with the controls on my headset, I can’t do the same with the Scribd app, unless there’s a setting I haven’t found yet. Pulling the cord from the headphone jack doesn’t stop it either, which means you need to interact with the screen to stop playback. While that’s usually not a problem, trust me, it’s an issue when one hand is holding the leash of a dog on a mission.
They’ve been good about updating their app so far, so I expect we’ll see widgets or other Android features in a later version, but for now, it feels cumbersome compared to other apps. I expect I’ll see better recommendations the more I listen, and that will help with discovery.
Even with my gripes, adding audiobooks to Scribd makes an already great deal even better. I’ve seen other bloggers and comments on blogs about cancelling/suspending Audible subscriptions. They’ve got a winner here.