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Scribd extends e-book subscription app to Kindle Fire

In the battle to become the "Netflix of digital books," Scribd is taking its app to Amazon Kindle Fire tablets while updating its iOS and Android apps.

Kindle Fire owners can now access Scribd's e-book subscription service.
Screenshot by CNET

Scribd, hailed as the YouTube of documents and now trying to become the Netflix of digital books, has launched a Kindle Fire app.

Like its Android and iOS apps, the Kindle Fire app allows Scribd's premium account holders to check out e-books from the company's library of "100,000 +" titles that make up the backbone of Scribd's fledgling e-book subscription service, which made its debut in October. At the same time, Scribd is updating its iOS and Android with new features, including more fonts, a night reading mode, and the ability to rate content within the app.

Scribd says that "more than 100,000 users have come to Scribd since October 1, 2013 seeking an app compatible with their Kindle Fire device." According to the company, since its subscription service launched it's had over 3 million mobile downloads, with the Scribd app used on "over 11M unique mobile devices in December 2013 alone."

However, it didn't say how many new premium subscribers, who pay $8.99 a month, it has added since launch. It also didn't mention whether it had struck any new deals with publishers (those "100,000+" titles only represent a tiny fraction of Amazon's e-book offerings).

Other start-ups have launched digital book subscription services, including Oyster, which also advertises having 100,000+ titles in its library and charges $9.95 per month for its all-you-can-eat service. It's unclear whether Amazon will launch one.

With its FreeTime Unlimited package, Amazon already has what amounts to a subscription service for kid-friendly content, so it doesn't seem like that big of a stretch for it to expand into a subscription service for grown-up content.

Much like music subscription services, digital book subscription services will end up being very similar, with many of the same publishers agreeing to sign partnership deals with the leading services. Scribd has the advantage of having been around for a while and having a large user base, although that base was primarily interested in accessing its free content. Still, it has good brand recognition within the digital reading community.

At present, Scribd and other fledgling digital subscription operations don't pose a threat to Amazon's dominance in the e-book arena. But I suspect someone at Amazon will keep an eye on how many Kindle Fire users are downloading Scribd's app.