The Netflix of Books

Who doesn’t love Netflix’s ability to grant us access to tons of streaming video content?  For a relatively small monthly fee you can stream everything from Twin Peaks to The Addams Family to Planet Earth.  But what about those of us who have a healthy appetite for good ol’ fashioned books, but don’t have the wallet to buy several each month?

Day 210: How Do You Hug a Library?

Photo by Quinn Dombrowski. CC license here.

We’re in luck too!  Services like Scribd offer unlimited access to their massive e-book (and audiobook and comic book!) collections for a flat fee of $8.99/month.  If you think of this membership fee in terms of the cost of books and e-books, it’s like purchasing one new book each month, but gaining access to hundreds of thousands of titles. Also, if you just need to access a few things, you can cancel membership anytime, so there’s no need to continually pay.

So, what types of content can you access?  Just like Netflix, Scribd has something for everyone, whether you want to indulge in a romance novel, get serious with a reference text, or something in between.  Here’s a sampling of some of their book categories:


Screenshot from Scribd’s ‘browse’ webpage.


In addition, members of Scribd can upload content to the site, meaning there are thousands of documents available there too including academic articles, dissertations, and more!

The downside?  Well, they can’t have everything.  Like any streaming service, Scribd does their best to provide access to as much content as possible (partnering with major publishers like MacMillan and HarperCollins), but inevitably there will be something you want that isn’t available.  I’d recommend browsing through some titles and available content to see if it looks like they’re a good  match for you.

An added bonus is that your friendly Fielding librarians have had some success finding works available on Scribd which are unavailable in the library. Why is this great?  Well, you could pay the $36-$47 (or more!) a work costs via Amazon.  Or, you could pay $8.99 for one month’s access on Scribd to download a full-text copy…with the added benefit of being able to access thousands of other full-text works too.

If you like to read on the go, in addition to downloading works or reading on your computer, Scribd offers an app (on iPad, iPhone, Android and Kindle Fire) so you can access content on a device of your choosing. This may be a great option for travelers who feel a bit encumbered carrying 10+ books onto the plane.

At the very least, this is another great resource to be aware of whether you use it for personal reading, to hunt down academic texts, or both.

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