Audiobooks can save you a lot of time. You can listen, even speed listen, to entire books without ever turning a single page. That means you can engage in other tasks while listening to your favorite authors. Two of the biggest names in the audiobook services world are Audible and Scribd. While Amazon owns Audible, it certainly has a vast variety of exclusive audiobooks. Scribd, on the other hand, is quite popular for things besides audiobooks. That makes one wonder which one they should subscribe to.
Both services have their pros and cons and choosing one over the other can be difficult. We’ve used both audiobook platforms and can share insights based on our experiences. Here is everything we learned about using Audible and Scribd that you need to know before subscribing.
1. Variety of Content
Scribd offers a variety of content which sets it apart from Audible to establish its spot. Audible is an audiobook platform and you’ll mostly find audio version of books. Scribd offers content in a variety of formats. You will find eBooks, audiobooks, podcasts, magazines, and even documents and slides. The last one is a recent addition, thanks to the SlideShare acquisition from LinkedIn.
You will find all sorts of documents on SlideShare like templates, academic papers, and even court filings. Then there is Sheet Music. Ever wanted to play that popular song on your guitar or piano? Sheet Music brings vocals and music notes for some of the world’s biggest artists at your fingertips.
Finally, I just want to bring your attention to Snapshots. A concept popularized by Blinkist, Scribd’s in-house team, will read/listen to books and create a summary for you. A quick way to get key insights without the fluff. Nothing beats reading a book though and that smell of paper is a different experience.
Scribd has all the content in every format imaginable for you to consume. There is something for everyone and while it can be overwhelming, I like having options. I like Snapshots as it gives me an idea of what to expect from the book, saves time, and increases retention rate. It’s also a great way to re-read the same book.
2. Availability of Content
Scribd may be leading the race with a content variety, but it is Audible that takes the lead when it comes to popular book titles. Audible does one thing and it excels at it. Audiobooks. They have a bigger library than Scribd and some of the titles that are available on Audible, you won’t find on Scribd or anywhere else.
For example, The Outsiders by William Thorndike is unavailable on Scribd.
That doesn’t mean Scribd’s collection is any less. It’s just that Amazon offers a larger database, thanks to contributions from the Kindle platform. Amazon has created an ecosystem for writers and readers alike with products like Kindle eReaders tablets and apps and services like the Kindle Direct Publishing.
You will find most popular titles on Audible and Scribd. Some indie writers publish their content exclusively on Kindle platform, but that’s a different story. There is a similar program for Audible called Audible Originals. These titles are not available on any other platform.
Here’s a personal preference test you can engage in – perform a search for a book or an author whose work you’d like to enjoy. Based on the results, you will get an idea of where each audiobook platform stands for your usage and habits.
Let’s begin with the smartphone interface because that’s where most people listen to audiobooks. The whole idea behind audiobooks is that it allows you to be productive and do other stuff while listening to books.
Audible’s interface is alright. Nothing fancy but works just fine. I guess UI doesn’t really matter because once you choose an audiobook, you won’t be looking at the screen anyway.
The options are pretty self-explanatory. Wish List for audiobooks that you want to read in the future and categories to find new titles based on interests. The News tab will simply take you to Audible’s social media profiles. Settings is an important one. You can control download method and quality, notifications, and how chapters are played here.
Scribd takes a slightly different approach and I like the UI better. It’s clean. There is a top bar where you can choose the type of content you want to consume. The bottom bar is how you will sort the chosen content type. Categories can be found under the Search tab.
A small but notable difference is the ability to create lists in Scribd. Audible has one single list where all audiobooks are housed. Scribd not only lets you create different lists, but also has Notebook sections where all notes, bookmarks, annotations, and highlighted sections are stored. On the flip side, you can’t control download method and quality and we will understand why in the next point.
If it matters, Audible comes with a widget but Scribd doesn’t.
4. Sound Quality
You probably already figured it out, but for those who didn’t, Audible content clearly has a better sound quality. Audible’s default (Standard) quality is 32 kbps and High quality is set at 64 kbps.
The reason Scribd doesn’t offer any way to customize downloads is that there is only one quality and that’s 32 kbps. In Scribd’s defense, it is acceptable because this is not the music we are listening to. Sound/voice needs to be clear and audible which it is. It’s just not up to the expectations we have, thanks to Audible.
5. Pricing and Platform
Both Audible and Scribd are available on the web and have mobile apps for Android and iOS. Audible also works with Alexa, Amazon’s digital assistant.
When it comes to cost, Audible is expensive. It comes with a $14.95 monthly plan that gets you one credit. Each credit can be redeemed once for one audiobook. You do get two Audible Originals, but they are not so great at the moment. The Platinum plan costs $22.95 and offers two credits. After that, each additional credit will cost you $14.
Scribd has a single plan that will cost you $8.99 per month. Under that plan, you get one audiobook every month and unlimited eBooks as well as content in other formats (with an asterisk) for that price, which is not bad. Note that if you are a prolific reader, Scribd may restrict you from consuming more or certain content at its sole discretion (read point 3 for more details). Basically, you are paying less and reading more making Scribd lose money and they won’t have it, for obvious reasons.
Note that in Audible, you are buying and not renting books which means you own them even after canceling the subscription. Scribd operates like Spotify where you can listen to songs as long as you are a subscriber but you don’t own them.
Can You Hear Me
Audible definitely has a better collection and that will make a difference for prolific audiobook listeners. I know some people who have subscribed to both the services. It all comes down to how many audiobooks you listen to every month, and whether you are interested in other content formats. If you are then Scribd is a solid option because it is cheaper and offers way more options. If not, you will find Audible’s collection fulfilling.
Next up: Interested in giving Audible a try? Click on the link below to learn everything there is to about Audible in our complete guide.
Last updated on 02 February, 2022
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