Online document sharing site Scribd has announced that it has partnered with a number of major publishers, including Random House, Simon & Schuster, Workman Publishing Co., Berrett-Koehler, Thomas Nelson, and Manning Publications, to legally offer some of their content to Scribd’s community free of charge. Publishers have begun to add an array of content to Scribd’s library, including full-length novels as well as briefer teaser excerpts.
Offering book excerpts to entice readers is nothing new – Amazon and Google have been doing this for years, and Amazon’s Kindle allows readers to download book samples to their devices for free. But these options aren’t conducive to sharing content that you’ve discovered on the web, as they don’t allow your to embed them in your blogs and websites. Scribd’s iPaper Flash document viewer is built to do exactly this, so inserting a book excerpt into a blog or even an author’s site is easy.
Authors also benefit from increased exposure on Scribd itself, which sees a monthly readership totaling as high as 50 million. Authors can also expose their work to a much broader demographic – for example, author Tess Gerritsen, whose largest audience has historically been women in their 40s and 50s, was able to attract a younger readership when she temporarily posted her novel “The Surgeon”.
Scribd has actually been posting both full text and excerpts of books from some of these publishers for a few months now as they conducted trial tests. The fact that they’re now publicly endorsing the platform seems to indicate that they’re pleased with the results, and I won’t be surprised if we start seeing more publishers sign on. Also worth noting is that this announcement stands in stark contrast to the accusations of Scribd’s willingness to host pirated content – I doubt many publishers would be willing to partner with the site if they thought it was wrought with piracy.