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Scribd (Android) review: A no-fuss e-book service with a growing catalog

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The Good The Scribd app has a pleasing design that's easy enough for anyone to use.

The Bad While sizable, the app's book catalog is missing many current and classic top titles.

The Bottom Line Cheaper than buying individual books, Scribd offers most of the books you want to read for a low monthly cost.

Free

8.6 Overall
  • Setup 8
  • Features 8
  • Interface 9.5
  • Performance 9.5

Review Sections

Editors' note, May 8, 2015: This review has been updated to include new books, audiobooks and comics added to Scribd's catalog.

All the e-books you can read for a flat $9 monthly fee; that's the promise of Scribd. What started as a simple document-sharing service has grown into a place to read documents and e-books from both individuals and publishers. Scribd has apps for iOS, Android, and the Kindle Fire.

The app competes with Oyster , a similar e-book subscription service, and Amazon Kindle Unlimited, which also gives you unlimited access to select Kindle books for a monthly fee. However, the Scribd app gets an edge with a pleasing design that's even easier to use than the company's website, not to mention a no-fuss reading experience. It also has 45,000 audiobooks and more than 10,000 comics from Marvel, Archie and other publishers. Unfortunately, though Scribd has a library of more than 500,000 e-books, the selection is missing most of the top-selling books from the last decade.

Setup and design

The Scribd app also lets you browse and read free documents that have been uploaded to the service, which span court documents, how-to manuals and research studies. However, I'll be focusing on the app's book subscription service in this review.

First, to access any part of the app, you need to sign up for a free Scribd account, which you can do with Facebook or your email. Then, to read books, you'll need to sign up for a monthly subscription. You get a free 30-day trial, but you'll still need to enter your payment information to get started. Once you're signed up, you can start reading any of the available e-books.

The app has a simple, clean design that's easy to navigate. The homepage is a bit bland, but it shows your most recently read items, followed by recommendations based on your reading history. However, the Browse page, where you can browse books by genre, such as Humor, Science Fiction and Romance, is colorful and engaging.

scribd-android-side-by-side.jpg
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Scribd has a simple, yet colorful design.

Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

Each genre is organized into subgenres and themed groups. For instance, in the Fantasy genre, Historical, Epic and Paranormal are subgenres, while the groups include "Ladies Hunting Demons" and "Here Be Dragons." There are also book collections, which are curated by Scribd's staff and users. Anyone can create a new collection, which can either be public or private.

You swipe through the genre and subgenre pages to find books, and you tap on individual covers to learn more about that title. Each book has a dedicated information page, which shows the title, book cover, author, synopsis, reviews from other Scribd users and related titles. On that page, you can either add the book to your library to read later, or you can start reading it immediately by tapping the open-book icon in the middle of the cover. You can also add the book to your collections and download it to your device for offline reading.

The Scribd app also has a social feed, which shows your Scribd activity as well as your friends'. If you signed up with Facebook, you'll see activity here from your Facebook friends who also use Scribd.

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