Scribd has launched its e-book subscription service in Australia, putting it in direct competition with Amazon

The platform will offer a $13.99 a month subscription for Australian readers.
  • Scribd announced it will enter the Australian e-book market with a subscription service, competing with Amazon and Audible.
  • The platform will offer a $13.99 a month subscription for Australian readers that will give them access to Scribd’s stable of two million local and international e-books.
  • Andrew Weinstein, Scribd’s vice president of content, acquisition and strategy, told Business Insider Australia its competitive price and central platform for content set it apart from competitors.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

Scribd has launched in the Australian e-book market, mounting a challenge to established services like Amazon’s Audible.

The global reading subscription service gives its customers access to over a million books, audiobooks, magazine articles, podcasts, and other documents like sheet music.

Founded in the US in 2007, the company already has a global user base of 1 million readers, and can be accessed as an app on iOS and Android devices, as well as across web browsers.

On the Australian platform, readers will have access to titles from Australian authors like “The Paris Affair” by Pip Drysdale, “The Museum of Modern Love” by Heather Rose, and “Scrublands” by Chris Hammer, along with work from international giants such as Jodi Picoult and Sally Rooney.

The platform will offer a $13.99 a month subscription for Australian readers that will give them access to Scribd’s stable of two million local and international e-books, as well as a selection of audiobooks, journal articles, magazines, and sheet music.

Scribd also said it has made a significant investment in content from Australia’s leading publishers across books and local magazines, including Australian content from local publishers including Allen & Unwin, Murdoch Books, Simon & Schuster Australia, HarperCollins Publishers Australia and Fremantle Press.

In a statement, it said it had enhanced the platform for an Australian audience, with local Australian content recommendations, and local pricing that made sense in the market.

Publishing’s digital evolution

Andrew Weinstein, Scribd’s vice president of content, acquisition and strategy, told Business Insider Australia he sees massive opportunity in Australia as a growth market for e-books.

He said Scribd’s competitive price, diversity of content, and centralised platform set it apart in the Australian market.

“I think when you compare the diversity of content, and the breadth of content that is included in Scribd’s service for $13.99, it really sets us apart from our competitors that have audiobooks in one service, and podcasts in another, and magazines in yet another,” Weinstein said.

“We do see that people interact with more than one type of content on Scribd as being happier and more satisfied. We think it’s a great way to differentiate ourselves from the competition.”

“I think having a single service and a single player that allows people to consume everything from e-books to podcasts to sheet music is pretty innovative,” Weinstein added.

“It’s really that user experience, that personalisation, the cross-content recommendations – just making it as easy to use as possible for the user.”

Weinstein said he’s excited about the original content recently released in partnership with Australian publishers.

Podcasts are also driving consumption, Weinstein said, with Scribd looking to explore more original audio.

“Scribd has gone from being a book-first type of experience to scaling way more audio,” he said.

We’ve seen consumption really just explode; while book consumption is growing it’s just not as fast as audiobooks consumption.”

Book publishing doubles down on audio

While few would praise the old-school publishing world for its agility, the industry has been inching towards innovation in recent years.

Last year’s pandemic was a boon for books, with an uptick in sales observed globally.

In the US, printed book sales amounted to 750.89 million units in 2020, marking growth of 8.2 percent, the highest year-on-year increase since 2010.

Similarly in Australia, in the first eight months of 2020, adult fiction sales were up 12% compared to the same period in 2019, and children’s, YA and educational sales were up 7%, according to data from Nielsen BookScan.

Audio has been a big priority in the past few years, commissioning editor and senior audio producer at Penguin Random House Australia & New Zealand Radhiah Chowdhury told Business Insider Australia.

“We invested in an in-house recording studio in early 2020, and the team has been scaling as production increases,” she said.

Chowdhury hopes the Australian publishing industry continues to see audio as central to engaging today’s busy readers.

“Perhaps as a result of the pivot to e-books, audio is often still an afterthought in publishing,” she said, adding, “it would also be great to see more integrated publishing between print and audio.”

She also believes publishing is ripe for further innovation, by rethinking the reading experience — particularly for a new generation.

“There’s great scope for interactive, enhanced publishing, such as physical picture books with an audio component that can be paired with a smart device, which works with the fact that kids growing up today are more connected to technology than ever before, and books are competing with a lot more entertainment options.”