I originally signed up for Scribd last summer. I knew a couple people who used it already for its unlimited ebooks, as well as a similar service, Oyster. I initially went with Scribd, though, because in addition to unlimited ebooks it offered audiobooks too. I love audiobooks but I do not love the price of them, and Scribd was a) cheaper than an Audible subscription and b) offers unlimited listening rather than one credit a month.
So I decided to give Scribd a chance to win me over. Their audiobook selection was decent, there was at least enough to keep me going for awhile, and there were even a few ebooks that caught my eye. But after a few months I found myself considering cancelling for two main reasons. The first was that unless you wanted to listen over Wi-Fi (not really an option when I’m driving or running) you had to download the book to your device and on Scribd this is a painfully slow process. Much slower than it ever should be. And the second was that I just wasn’t using it as much as I thought I would. I listened to a couple audiobooks, but when you have a stack of review copies the size of Mount Everest beside your bed, an unlimited books app may not be the most practical investment.
But before I hit the cancellation button I received the following e-mail:
And the promise of unlimited comics from publishers like great publishers Marvel, IDW, and Valiant was enough to get me to re-consider my decision for a little while.
One of the things I like best about Scribd is the browsing experience. Titles can be easily sorted into relevant categories, either by publisher or genre. And, similar to Netflix, they have pre-existing categories that you may be interested in.
I also appreciate that there is the option to add books and comics to your “library” and to create different groups to organize your new digital to read pile.
But despite the lovely design of Scribd there are some flaws when you begin to dig in. First problem was the same issue I had with the ebooks and audiobooks–the painfully slow download. Single issue titles like The Death Defying Doctor Mirage were bad enough but larger collections like From Hell or Volume One of Frank Miller’s Daredevil were so slow I thought I was back on dial-up. Daredevil for example took over five minutes to open. Because of this it’s likely that the only titles I’ll read on this app are ones I’m already interested in, since it’s not worth the wait to download and sample a new comic and see if it’s something I might be interested in. Which is a big drawback to those lesser known titles.
When you finally get a comic open, the speed improved, but there was still a touch of a lag while waiting for the page to come into focus. But once the page was in focus the picture was great, colours vivid and on my device the text was easy to read. When necessary, zooming in to specific panels didn’t distort the picture either.
The other major flaw is incomplete comic series. There are a lot of great comics available on this app but many of the ones I’m interested in only have 1-2 issues available at this time. This is most likely because they have only recently started offering comics, and I’m sure more will be added going forward. But I can imagine no greater torture than falling in love with Lumberjanes or Bee and Puppycat only to discover the first issue is all you have access to.
If you’re looking for an app purely for comics Scribd isn’t quite there yet. But if the idea of an app that bundles comics, ebooks and audiobooks sound appealing, then there’s no harm signing up for the free month trial and seeing if its offerings work for you.