Scribd introduces bite-sized nonfiction previews called Snapshots

Subscription e-book and audiobook service Scribd is unveiling a new content type that it calls a Snapshot — a distillation of a nonfiction book’s key points, which can be read or listened to in 15 minutes or less.

In fact, although it’s only announcing Snapshots today, Scribd says it’s already created around 500 of them, for example, this preview of  Jaron Lanier’s audiobook “Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now” and this Snapshot of Mark Manson’s “The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck.”

CEO Trip Adler said a Snapshot is meant to capture “the key insights, the key themes, the tone, the structure of the book.”

As Scribd creates more Snapshots, subscribers will see them show up alongside the books themselves, in both text and audio formats.

And while it’s easy to think of this as a CliffsNotes version that allows you to skip the book, Adler said it’s actually designed to do the opposite, namely to help readers “make a better decision” about whether to read the whole thing. In other words, you should get a clear sense of what an author is trying to say, but you’ll have to turn to the book if you want the full argument.

In fact, Adler said the idea for Snapshots emerged from a Scribd user survey about what would make them more likely to read a book.

He also emphasized that Snapshots are “completely original content” created by Scribd’s freelance team — original in the sense that even though they’re citing ideas from the books, they’re not quoting them directly. This puts it in line with Scribd’s original content initiative launched earlier this year, and it’s also an important distinction since the company isn’t striking new deals with publishers or authors to create these previews.