Scribd vs Audible: Pricing, Plans, Pros & Cons in 2021

Scribd vs. Audible Which is Best? We Compare Flatrate vs. Ownership, Library Size vs. Unlimited Books, Audio Quality vs. Access to Ebooks.

I am a hardcore Audiobook lover with a library of over 300 books, and I have a full subscription with both Audible and Scribd. I have been using Audible for the last nine years and Scribd since 2019, so I feel I am in a good position to provide an unbiased and detailed review of both services and, most importantly, highlight the significant differences.

Scribd vs. Audible Summary

The key differences between Scribd and Audible are, with Audible, you have higher audio quality, the largest library, and you own the audiobooks forever. With Scribd, you have access to written content, a flat monthly fee to listen, but a much smaller library of books you will never own.

Both Scribd and Audible offer great services; after significant usage and testing, I can assure you, you will be happy with either service. Which one you choose just depends on what you are looking for.

Scribd vs. Audible ResultsAudibleScribd Audiobooks
Rating★★★★★★★★☆☆
Do You Own the Audiobook?
Lifetime Access to Books
Audiobooks Collection200,000+40,000 est
# Audiobooks / month2Unlimited/Throttled
Audio QualityExcellent (64kbps)Good (32 kbps)
Membership /month$14.95$9.95
Membership /yearly$149.50--
Visit AudibleVisit Scribd

 

For me, Audible beats Scribd for five important reasons; however, Scribd also has three great advantages.

5 Reasons Why Audible is Better Than Scribd

  • Audiobook Ownership: With Audible, you own the books; with Scribd, you only rent access to the library.
  • Lifetime Access: With Audible, after you end your subscription, you still own the books.
  • Library Size: Audible has over 200K titles; Scribd does not officially mention how many titles, but I estimate less than 40K.
  • Audiobooks per Month: While Scribd claims unlimited listening, it does throttle, and limits access if you listen to more than 4 per month (according to Reddit Users & the Scribd User Agreement).
  • Audio Quality: Audibles audio quality is significantly better a 64 kbps, compared to Scribd’s 32 kbps.

3 Reasons Why Scribd is Better Than Audible

  • Scribd is cheaper than Audible by $29.50 per year.
  • Scribd also provides access to their eBook Library.
  • Scribd has over 100 high-quality magazines, a document library, and even sheet music.

Scribd vs. Audible Product Comparison

Scribd vs. Audible Product ComparisonAudibleScribd Audiobooks
Audiobook TypeFullFull
Do You Own the Audiobook?
Lifetime Access to Books
Audiobooks Collection200,000+40,000 est
Audio QualityExcellent (64kbps)Good (32 kbps)
Exclusive Content
eBooks
Magazines
Podcasts
ResultWinner
Visit AudibleVisit Scribd

 

Do you own the Audiobook?

For me, one of the most important elements of books or audiobooks is that you get to keep the books you pay for.  I own over 250 titles with a value of $2,500, and I am pleased to hand them down to my children in the future.

Scribd offers an unlimited listening subscription, but you are really just borrowing the book for the duration of your subscription.  When you end the subscription, you have nothing.  With Audible, you can still log in and use the App even when you have ended the subscription.

Library & Audio Quality

New releases and bestsellers are inevitably released on Audible first as its market share and customer base make it irresistible to publishers.  Therefore Audible always has the latest releases and has the world’s most extensive Audiobook library of over 200,000 titles.

Scribd does not release how many audiobooks they have, probably because it would not be great for PR; I went through their library for over one hour and estimated it at no more than 40,000 titles, many of them older, lower-quality titles.

Audible also provides the industry-leading audio quality with a bit rate of 64 versus Scribd’s standard 32 bit; if you are an audiophile with great speakers or headphones, you will notice the difference.

Content Comparison Scribd vs. Audible

When it comes to the breadth of non-audiobook content, then you have a clear winner in Scribd.  Scribd offers an excellent choice of magazines, eBooks, and even a useful document repository and sheet music.  Buying sheet music is expensive, so Scribd could be a great choice if you are a musician.

Scribd Magazines - A Good Selection
Scribd Magazines – A Good Selection

Scribd vs. Audible Pricing Comparison

 

Scribd vs. Audible PricingAudibleScribd Audiobooks
Subscription RequiredYesYes
Membership /month$14.95$9.95
Membership /yearly$149.50
# Audiobooks / month1Unlimited/Throttled
Cost per book /monthly subscription$14.95--
Cost per book /yearly subscription$12.45--
ResultTiedTied
Visit AudibleVisit Scribd

 

In terms of pricing, if you are looking to rent books and audiobooks only and are not too worried about the latest bestseller, then you will save $42.10 per year with Scribd.

With Audible, you will get to own 1 Audiobook per month on a yearly subscription of $149.50 or $12.45 per book, which is the cheapest in the industry.

As mentioned previously, Scribd claims unlimited listening, but it does throttle and limit access if you listen to more than four books per month (according to Reddit Users & the Scribd User Agreement).  This is not really unlimited listening and has outraged some users.  This would be life Netflix saying you have binged a TV series too much and need to wait until next month.

All in all, this section is tied. It costs more with Audible, but you buy the books you want immediately and have them for life. Scribd costs 30% less for a larger selection of lower-quality content, but you may be restricted if you use too much.

Scribd vs. Audible Apps & Devices Comparison

Scribd vs. Audible Apps & DevicesAudibleScribd Audiobooks
App Store  Rating4.6 ☆4.5 ☆
DevicesiPhone, Android, PC, TV, Alexa, Kindle, Fire TViPhone, Android, PC
Smart SpeakerAlexa
ResultWinner
Visit AudibleVisit Scribd

 

Both Audible and Scribd provide great mobile apps that are highly rated in the App Stores by users.  The biggest difference here is that Audible will play on your Smart TV, your Amazon Firestick, and even Alexa will play your audiobooks.  Scribd does not have this.

Scribd vs. Audible Customer Service Comparison

Scribd vs. Audible Customer ServiceAudibleScribd Audiobooks
Books Return Policy1 Year, No Questions AskedNothing to Return
Customer SupportPhone, Chat, EmailEmail Only
ResultWinner
Visit AudibleVisit Scribd

 

One of the most important reasons why Audible is the clear winner for me is that they have the industry’s best returns policy.  If you do not like a book, for whatever reason, the narrator, the plot, or it is simply boring, you can return your book within one year of purchase, no questions asked.

However, with Scribd, there is nothing to return because you did not purchase anything.

If you have a problem, Audible is available 24/7 on email, chat, or phone, whereas with Scribd, you only have online access to support with a multi-day wait.

Full Scribd Review

Visit Scribd
The Best Unlimited Audiobook Subscription Service but Limited Titles & Throttling of Access

Scribd Review SummaryLikesDislikes
Rating: ☆☆☆☆★ Unlimited Audiobook Listening✘ You do not own the books
★ $9.95 Flat Rate per Month✘ Limitations on Accessing Popular Titles
★ 100+ Magazines
★ Good Apps for Android & Apple
Visit Scribd★ 1,000s of eBooks

Scribd Review Summary

Highly Recommended Software

There are a lot of fans of Scribd out there, especially avid readers and audiobook listeners.

Scribd announced something very new in the world of media, a Flat Rate unlimited access to the Audiobook, eBooks, and Managzine Library.

This essentially went viral because, before this announcement, everyone was forced to pay for audiobooks individually.

There is nothing official from Scribd, but I estimate the Audiobook library to contain about 30,000 to 40,000 titles, this is a lot lower than Audible or Audiobooks.com, but I also suspect that the publishers receive a lot less revenue from Scribd, so they are less inclined to release new and best-selling titles.

Netflix for Audiobooks – Scribd

Scribd App for Audiobooks - A Good User Experience
Scribd App for Audiobooks – A Good User Experience

Scribd is very similar to Netflix in its business model; it licenses content from publishers and pays them on a per-use basis.

As a consumer, we see only a low flat rate subscription charge per month for a large amount of content.

The monthly subscription is so low because you do not own the books; you are simply allowed to access them for the duration of your subscription.

It is difficult to compare Scribd for Audiobooks with Audible or Audiobooks.com.

The Scribd library is not as large, does not contain the sheer depth of blockbuster, and bestseller titles and popular books are throttled.

Aside from that, I have found many audiobooks to enjoy, including the entire works of Tolkien and books by my favorite British comedians.

Scribd will become tiresome for the hardcore Audiobookphile, but it is quite compelling for casual listeners who also enjoy magazines and ebooks.

Scribd Magazines

Scribd has 100 magazines, which you can access via browser or the App. I was really impressed because there are some good magazines included.

Flagship magazines like Time, T3, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Newsweek, and Inc are included.

Scribd Magazines - A Good Selection
Scribd Magazines – A Good Selection

I was very excited to see this, but when I read a few magazines, I realized the experience is not like really reading a magazine.

I do not mean the paper; I mean the layout and editing.  The magazine articles are in simple HTML with simple images; in fact, some magazines like T3 were very poorly formatted indeed.

This detracted from the magazine experience.

Scribd – Key Feature & Benefits Tabe

 Scribd Audiobooks
Our Rating☆☆☆☆
Audiobook TypeFull
Do You Own the Audiobook
Lifetime Access to Books
Audiobooks Collection40,000 est
Membership /month$9.99
Membership /yearly
Scribd Audiobooks
# Audiobooks / monthUnlimited
Cost per book /monthly subscription-
Cost per book /yearly subscription-
Subscription RequiredYes
Audio QualityExcellent
Books Returns PolicyNothing to Return
Customer SupportEmail Only
Scribd Audiobooks
Special Services
eBooks
Magazines
Podcasts
App Store Rating4.5 ☆
DevicesiPhone, Android, PC
Smart Speaker
Scribd - Key Feature & Benefits Tabe

Scribd Pricing Plans

The Scribd pricing is straightforward; it is $9.95 per month for unlimited access to their library of books, audiobooks, and 100+ magazines for the duration of your subscription.

If you stop the subscription, you lose access.  For many, this is not a problem; if you listen to a lot of audiobooks and are not interested in building up a library of books that you own, then it is a great solution.

I have been with Audible for ten years, I have 295 audiobooks, which cost me approximately $2,800 over that period, but those books are mine for life and for my children.

If I had been with Scribd for that period, it would have cost me $1072, but I would own nothing.  It is like the difference between renting and owning your own home.

Customer Service & Returns Policy

I have seen many complaints online that Scribd is throttling heavy audiobook consumers as they consume too many books.  Also, I have read that certain bestselling titles are restricted to one or two per user per month or not even visible for some users.

I have not experienced this, but I can understand that it is a balancing act for Scribd to ensure they earn in revenue what they need to pay to publishers and that some do not abuse the system.

Scribd – A Good Collection of the Written Word & Music

I must say you could never get bored inside the SCRIBD ecosystem; you can see below the sheer depth of content available for the small monthly subscription.

Managing Your Library With Scribd
Managing Your Library With Scribd

Scribd App & Device Compatibility

Scribd App Store Rating: 4.5 ☆ Excellent

I have been using the App with my new subscription for two months and have found it an absolute delight to use. Running on Android and iPhone, the App actually has everything you would need to enjoy Audiobooks and other media.

Key App Functionality:

  • Sleep timer
  • Bookmarking & Note Taking
  • Sharing
  • Playback speed control

Scribd Review Summary

Scribd gets our recommendation. Although it cannot compete head-to-head with Audible on Audiobooks alone, it does provide added value in terms of magazines, eBooks, and even sheet music.  So if you are looking for a good overall written work package, look no further.

Full Audible Review

Audible AudiobooksSimply the Biggest & Best Audiobook Collection & Surprisingly The Lowest Subscription Costs per Book

Audible Review SummaryLikesDislikes
Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆★ You Own the Book for Life✘ Nothing
★ The Biggest Library 200K+ Titles
★ Lowest Cost per Book $4.13
★ The Best Returns Policy
Visit Audible★ Compatible on All Devices
★ Syncs with Kindle

 

Review Winning Software

Audible Review Summary

Audible is the leader in the Audiobook industry with by far the largest library of titles with over 200,000 audiobooks in its library.

I should know, I have been an Audible member for the last nine years.

New releases and bestsellers are inevitably released on Audible first as its market share and customer base make it irresistible.

For me, one of the most important elements of books or audiobooks is that you get to keep the books you pay for. 

I own over 250 titles with a value of $2,500, and I am pleased to hand them down to my children in the future.

Some services, such as Scribd, offer an unlimited listening subscription, but you are really just borrowing the book for the duration of your subscription.  When you end the subscription, you have nothing.

With Audible, you can still log in and use the App even when you have ended the subscription.

Audible Features, Benefits & Costs Table

Audiobook ServiceAudible
Our Rating☆☆☆☆☆
Audiobook TypeFull
Do You Own the Audiobook
Lifetime Access to Books
Audiobooks Collection200K+
Membership /month$14.95
Membership /yearly$149.50
# Audiobooks1 /month
Cost per book /monthly subscription$14.95
Cost per book /yearly subscription$12.45
Subscription RequiredYes
Audio QualityExcellent
Books Returns Policy1 Year
Unlimited
Customer SupportPhone, Chat, Email
Special ServicesAudible Original Podcasts
Podcasts
App Store Rating4.6 ☆
DevicesiPhone, Android, PC, TV, Alexa, Kindle, Fire TV
Smart SpeakerAlexa
Table 1: Audible Audiobook Service, Features, Benefits & Costs

Audible Pricing Plans

With Audible, you need a subscription, but that subscription means you get to buy books at a tiny fraction of their actual retail value.  Some believe that Audible is expensive, but the reality is that they are the cheapest way to buy audiobooks.

Audible Audiobooks App - Homescreen - Always has a Good Member Deal
Audible Audiobooks App – Homescreen – Always has a Good Member Deal

Audible Subscription – $14.95 per month

The entry-level subscription with Audible is actually the best value because you will get one credit for any title and one free Audible Original title. This means you get two books per month for $14.95, therefore $7.48 per book.

If you pay this subscription annually, you will pay $149.50, meaning you get two free months, and this brings the average cost per book down to $4.13; this is the lowest cost in the industry.

You could also opt for $22.95 per month for two audiobook credits and 2 Audible Original titles, but that works out at $5.50 per book.

Whichever subscription you choose, you will get 30% off any other purchases you make.  But the best news is that even if you run out of credits, Audible will allow you to buy additional credits at between $5 to $7 per credit, depending on the offers they have.

Additionally, nearly every single week, you will receive special promotions for “2 books for 1 credit” or “Every book for $3”, which are simply excellent deals.

Finally, Audible has a massive selection of exclusive professional Podcasts that they offer free to members. At Christmas, they will also send you Christmas stories for the family and children, a really nice touch.

Audible Content & Quality

Over the past few years, I have noticed the incredible growth in Audible original and exclusive content.  Audible being an Amazon company can invest heavily in differentiating themselves from their competitors.

  • Audible Originals – Produced by Audible Studios, high-quality blockbuster titles like Winter Rising by Alex Callister (11 hours 31 minutes)
  • Audible Original Podcasts – Free Podcasts Exclusively from Audible, featuring big names such as Stephen Fry’s “Victorian Secrets” (7 hours 40 minutes)
  • Audible Theatre – High-end theater production from great names, for example, Stories by Heart by John Lithgow

Audio Quality

Audible offers two formats, Enhanced and Format 4. Format 4 is for those who value space rather than audio quality.

I download all my books in Enhanced format. This is exclusive to Audible! Audiobooks in Enhanced format are minimally compressed, so their audio quality is the best on the market. However, this means that the audiobook file is also large and takes more time to download.

Audible Customer Service & Returns Policy

One of the most important reasons why Audible is the clear winner for me is that they have the industry’s best returns policy.  If you do not like a book, for whatever reason, the narrator, the plot, or it is simply boring, you can return your book within one year of purchase.

Great Listens Guarantee

The Excellent Audible App Library - Easy To Use.
The Excellent Audible App Library – Easy To Use.

There is nothing worse than paying for a book that you ultimately dislike; Audible removes this problem with their “Great Listens to Guarantee.”

You can simply go to Account -> Purchases -> Click Return Title, and you are immediately refunded your credit.

I would know I have returned so many books for one reason or another, and never once have they said no.

Finally, you can contact Audible via phone, chat, or email.  I have used chat many times, and they are available instantly 24/7 with no wait; that is a great service.

Audible App & Device Compatibility

Play Store App Rating – 4.6 ☆ Excellent

Having used the Audible App for ten years, I can safely say it is rock solid, easy to use, and actually perfect.

The Audible App has the following key features:

  • Car Mode – Make the app simple to use when driving with bigger buttons.
  • Books Sharing – Send a Book to a Friend or share your progress
  • Clips, Bookmarks & Notes – saving sound clips and making notes
  • Sleep Timer –   useful for listening when you go to bed, so it does not play all night
  • Variable Speed Playback – great for slow narrators or digesting long books quicker

Your Audible books will play on all devices from Apple, Android, Smart TV’s and even the Amazon Alexa smart speaker will read them to you.

Audible Audiobook Download Speeds

Downloading an Audiobook to your phone is incredibly quick; usually, within 30 seconds, you can start listening to a book. This is because the intelligent downloading system allows you to start listening before the entire audiobook has been downloaded.

Audible Customer Satisfaction

They say customers vote with their feet; if this is the case, our recent audiobook survey suggests that Audible Customers are very happy.  Audible was the most popular choice of Audiobook service amongst our 1,000 strong poll.

Pie Chart - Survey Question: What is the Best Audiobook Service?
Pie Chart – Survey Question: What is the Best Audiobook Service?

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Why Audible Video

'Listening Brings Us Closer' Commercial | Audible

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Barry's 25 years of experience with Silicon Valley Corporations such as IBM, Compaq, Hewlett Packard, Hewlett Packard Enterprise & DXC Technology enables him to share his knowledge of succeeding in today's professional corporate environments and develop a great work life for yourself.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Like the author, I subscribed to both Audible and Scrib’d. Audible is fine, if not a bit pricey, and I like owning the books that I care about because I tend to revisit my favorites. Scrib’d, on the other hand, while billing it’s subscription as unlimited, throttled me almost every month, sometimes after 4 audiobooks, and sometimes after less. There didn’t seem to be a pattern, and their website is quite vague about the policy. After much searching, I found a wonderful alternative to Scrib’d at half the cost: the Brooklyn Public Library offers an Out-of-State library card which gives you access to their insanely deep collection of audio books and e-books, as well as videos. It only costs $50/yr, borrowing is unlimited. It has Scrib’d beat, hands down.

  2. I’d like to add here that Scribd has a fair amount of books as “documents” that you can download as a PDF and keep for life, if you want to sit down and read them. Aside from the books they host miscellaneous user uploaded files such as class synopses, textbooks synopses and student papers, also downloadable for life.

  3. I did scribd for my 2 months free. Statred 4 May 2021. Started listening right then. Have listened to 28 books as of 22
    May 2021. Next book in the series is not available till 5 Jun 2021. I do audiobook at work at night, only two of us work or sometimes just me.

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