Streaming talk content gets another boost: Scribd adds audiobook subscription service

Scribd logo canvasScribd, a digital book service, launched an all-you-can-read ebook subscription program last year. Now, it has added an audiobook component to its offerings. The plan costs $8.99 a month and offers unlimited reading and listening within its catalog. It currently has more than half a million ebooks and more than 30,000 audiobooks available.

The rollout of audiobooks within Scribd’s service highlights a few of the recent trends that the entertainment and media industries should be keeping tabs on.

First, audio streaming has expanded to include more than music. For instance, Deezer recently acquired Stitcher, adding talk radio into its catalog of songs. “Talk lags behind music, but among our users there is an enormous demand for talk content,” Tyler Goldman, Deezer’s North American CEO, told RAIN prior to the purchase. Deezer’s not the only one considering complements to music; Pandora has also been reportedly toying with the idea of adding talk radio, news, and sports to its offerings.

Second, it’s another vote of confidence in the popularity of the subscription model. Scribd is the first to foray into presenting audiobooks through this format. CEO Trip Adler told Wired that subscriptions gave readers a chance to sample and try out different titles without committing to the purchase price of a hardcover book.

Chantal Restivo-Alessi, chief digital officer at HarperCollins, noted that there was a niche for subscriptions to fill in the current market: “We believe the world will continue to be a mixed world. A la carte retail and subscription. Physical and digital.” The same seems true for music too.

Anna Washenko