The audiobook industry is growing at a fast pace. According to Audio Publisher’s Association, the use of audiobooks has increased by 24% in the past several years, with $940 million in revenue in the US alone. So it is of no surprise that audiobooks are becoming a popular choice for tech-savvy book lovers and by publishers as well.
Today, audiobook platforms are quite popular with new audiobook apps coming out regularly. And two of the consistently popular versions are those of Audible and Scribd. These two platforms are similar in that they provide the same service of purchasing and listening to audiobooks, but they have their share of features that make them stand out from one another.
In this guide, we list down and compare the features and put the two apps against each other in our Scribd vs Audible post to help you determine which one is best for your needs.
But Why Audiobooks?
Audiobooks may seem like a novel alternative to reading, but while they won’t make your traditional paperback obsolete anytime soon they do have several advantages:
• Audiobooks require less attention. Using your ears instead of your eyes frees you up to do other tasks while listening, such as cleaning your house, driving, or doing exercise.
• It allows you to listen in low-light environments. For the same reason, audiobooks do not need a bright light source to use. No need for a light source also makes it ideal for people who have poor or impaired eyesight.
• It provides portable storage for several books. A single mobile can store a mini library’s worth of audiobooks, saving up a significant amount of space in the process.
• It is more environmentally friendly. Every audiobook you download means there is one less tree cut down for paper. Most, if not all, mobile devices for use with audiobooks are also energy-efficient and may consume less energy and resources compared to printing an actual book.
• They have more features. Most audiobooks nowadays come bundled with extra add-ons such as commentary, author interviews, and much more.
• Many audiobooks have excellent narration. Popular titles are often narrated by professional voice-over artists or even famous actors, adding atmosphere and interest to the story.
What is Audible?
Amazon’s Audible tops the most charts and reviews for audiobook platforms, and it’s for a good reason. With nearly a quarter of a million titles available, it houses one of the biggest catalogs of audiobooks online. The basic plan gives members credits that can be exchanged for an audiobook, although there also plans available which give up to 24 credits for frequent readers. Amazon Prime members also have additional perks such as free, exclusive content with each purchase of a book.
Audible has a free downloadable mobile app allowing users to switch between audio and eBook versions or sync with Amazon Alexa. They also have a returns policy that allows subscribers to return audiobooks in exchange for credits.
But probably the biggest draw the app has over its competitors is that Amazon backs it. After being acquired in 2008, Audible uses the same resources as Amazon has for its stores, resulting in higher quality products, support for the Alexa virtual assistant and other Amazon services, and 24-hour customer support.
Read our full review on Audible here.
What is Scribd?
Scribd is a far smaller platform compared to Audible, but it makes up with variety what it lacks in size. A Scribd membership provides access not just to audiobooks but also to ebooks, magazines, and other documents. It also has an unlimited reading policy, allowing for unrestricted access to its books even when reading offline. The audiobooks also come with a few extras such as publisher summaries and customer reviews and recommendations.
Membership to Scribd is every month, after which users can navigate its website or mobile app. Users can add books to a wish list, listen to an audio clip summarizing the book’s contents, or seamlessly switch between an audiobook or ebook version with just a click of a button.
Check our our Scribd review here.
Now we will cover a few key areas to show you the difference and similarities these two apps have:
With approximately 200,000 titles available at any given time, Audible has one of the largest collections of audiobooks. It categorizes content into standard and premium, with the latter often being the latest bestsellers at a higher credit. Audible also has its Audible Originals program, which has audiobooks that are exclusive to the Audible platform and cannot be purchased anywhere else.
But while the Audible platform reigns supreme with its extensive catalog, Scribd does have more variety in its collection. With approximately 60 million documents, including magazines, ebooks, research papers, and even sheet music, Scribd is often the better choice for researchers, students, and those looking for more content than just a book. Members looking for a quick listen to while on the go can also make use of Scribd’s 15-minute “Snapshots,” which summarize popular books in its catalog. They also update their magazines regularly, with the latest issues of popular publications often available as soon as they published for circulation.
Besides, Scribd also has the benefit of supporting various file formats aside from audio streaming, including PDF, plain text, and Word files. It also automatically converts any uploaded PDF documents to the HTML5 format, which allows for faster loading without compromising on quality.
Another unique feature Scribd has is that it allows members to upload their documents, which can then be read by other Scribd members or via third-party e-reader platforms. Users can easily click on the Upload button, select the file they wish to upload, and the service will do the rest. Scribd currently accepts a single file limit of 100MB, although they recommend uploading files 75MB or less to ensure a successful upload to their cloud.
One advantage Scribd has is its signature unlimited reading policy. Launched in September 2018, the policy enables members to gain access to the Scribd catalog without any caps to the number of titles you can read. Audible, on the other hand, currently limit their members to the books they have purchased with credits from the app.
But while it allows for unlimited access for its books, Scribd only gives its members licenses to read their books. Whereas in Audible, members have permanent ownership of the books they’ve purchased. This means if you cancel your Scribd subscription, you won’t be able to access your saved titles until you renew your membership. But with Audible, you can still gain access to your audiobooks even after your membership has expired.
Audible limits the number of devices users can use for playing their audiobook purchases. Also, you can only share purchases with other registered users. This means for you to share and read the books to others, they must first have a registered Amazon account. Scribd limits access to its titles to only three computers to listen to online in 24 hours. It also restricts downloads to four registered mobile devices.
Audiobooks from Audible are capped at 64kbps bitrate, while Scribd limits it to 32kbps. Audible maintains a slight advantage, with better sound quality with lower noise distortion. However, the higher bit rate comes at the cost of the need for more storage space. 32kbps is also the standard format for digital music, so the difference in quality is only noticeable when using high-end headphones or speakers. So if you’re a stickler for high sound quality and a great audio setup, the Audible is the better choice. But if your reading device is limited in storage, it may be better to stick with Scribd.
Scribd and Audible mobile apps are very similar in both design and functionality. Users gain access to essential navigation tools such as playback speed and an incremental sleep timer. Audible has a detailed search function, allowing users to check for a title using a specific set of filters. This function makes it suitable for researchers or users looking for an obscure title. Also, the Audible app allows readers to bookmark their audiobooks, while in Scribd, you will need to open the player interface and navigate to a specific portion of the book.
In terms of reliability, the Audible mobile app also takes the lead with better ratings in the iTunes and Google Play store. Reviews for the Audible app are positive, with customers praising its smooth operation and excellent technical support. Scribd, on the other hand, has been plagued with technical issues, especially with its Android version.
Payment Options and Pricing
Looking for the cheapest audiobooks? Scribd has a 30 day free trial and offers a flat monthly rate of $8.99, which includes unlimited access to non-premium books and a maximum of three premium books to download. While the restrictions on premium content may set it apart from other unlimited content subscriptions, users will still gain access to thousands of additional content in the Scribd catalog. Furthermore, the three premium books offered by Scribd tend to be full-sized books, which is ample enough for average readers to finish within a month.
Membership for Audible, on the other hand, is a bit more expensive than Scribd with the basic plan sitting at $14.95 per month, and they also have a 30 day free trial. This membership level provides users with just one credit for an audiobook per month and two Audible Original premium books to download. For more serious readers willing to spend more for more exclusive content, Audible also has a Premium plan that runs at $22.95 per month. Premium users are given two credits monthly with the option to purchase additional credits at $14 each. They also gain access to exclusive content to which that regular users do not typically have access.
Scribd is an attractive choice for budget-conscious readers due to its lower pricing and unrestricted access to its catalog. But for long-term savings and benefits, Audible is the ideal choice. Their higher fees come with complete ownership of the books purchased, while Scribd only lets its members borrow its books. Members also have access to a more significant audiobook catalog and Amazon’s technical support service. They also benefit from Audible’s generous returns policy wherein they can return a book they have already read within the past year.
As Audible is under Amazon, it follows the same geographic rules and restrictions followed by other Amazon products and services. This is not always a disadvantage; however, as countries where the Amazon store is officially available, such as in Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, Japan, the United Kingdom, and India, it can benefit from lower prices for local books. Scribd typically offers a flat rate regardless of region, although customer support tends to be more limited comparatively.
There is no clear winner between Audible and Scribd, as each audiobook platform has its share of benefits and drawbacks. Audible focuses mainly on audiobooks, for example, and while it has many enhancements to make listening to your favorite book, it falls short when it comes to listening to other types of media.
Scribd, on the other hand, is a more well-rounded platform. It allows access not just to audiobooks but also ebooks, magazines, and other documents. It is also a more affordable alternative, which is enticing for readers on a tight budget. However, because the platform only provides a license to read the books and not digital ownership of the book itself, it may be more expensive in the long term.
So, when we put Scribd vs Audible, what audiobook platform should you choose? Ultimately, it depends on what you want. If you are more interested in audiobooks, Audible’s massive library and access to the latest releases is the recommended choice. But if you are a frequent reader of magazines or tend to jump from one book to the next, Scribd offers a more varied selection and flexibility thanks to its unlimited reading policy.
But regardless of what type of platform you choose, both Audible and Scribd are, at their most basic, excellent choices. Both have a free trial for 30 days and both audiobook platforms have an extensive library of content. And while Audible has higher bitrates, the quality is not that significant, especially without the use of high-end audio equipment. So, whatever the case may be, choosing an audiobook platform will still be based on your tastes.