Reading isn’t a particularly social activity, but talking about reading and sharing books, articles, and other documents is highly social. Book clubs are so popular because people identify with other people who share the same reading interests. Document-sharing site Scribd wants to become the place on the Web where a million reading clubs flourish . With a redesign rolling later today, it will now start calling itself a “Social Network For Reading.”
Scribd is already is seeing traffic to its site double every six weeks from social sharing through Facebook, Twitter, Google Buzz, and email. Documents are shared, liked, or commented on 10 million times a month now, and CEO Trip Adler expects that to multiply with the redesign. It has already embraced HTML5 and is continuing on a new design path it embarked upon six months ago.
The two main changes to the site are a cleaner home page with a reading feed and a personal book shelf with all your documents (screenshots below). Scribd had versions of these before, but the home page is now two columns instead of three. The reading feed takes up the main column, as before, but the document icons are larger and it is now easier to share directly from the feed. The algorithms behind the feed are also more targeted to make it a better reading recommendation engine, showing the documents your friends and people you “subscribe” to are reading, publishing, and commenting on.
The book shelf basically replaces what used to be called My Documents and My Collections. It organizes everything you’ve read or published in one place, and looks a bit like the bookshelf theme in Apple’s iBooks app on the iPad. Whereas the reading feed acts as a realtime social club and discovery engine, the book shelf is where you can delve deeper into a person’s online reading library.
Below is CEO Trip Adler’s letter explaining the changes: