business / digital books

Should You Use Scribd for Ebooks

If you only publish your books traditionally, you’re missing out. Check out this graph if digital sales between 2002 and now:

ebook sales

As the digital book market explodes, I’ve realized I need an ebook presence. Since I’m a one-woman show, I don’t want to be responsible for the fulfillment of online digital orders. It’s worth a portion of the revenue to find an etailer who can dependably deliver my books to my customers. In my quest for just such a sales partner, I have tried myriad companies–

  • Freado–though I love the book widgets, they haven’t done a thing for my sales. And it took a long time to set up my store on Freado. They had lots of questions, options, fields that had to be completed–OMG. It was one night’s investment of time–say, four hours–with pretty much no return
  • DocStoc–This site has a professional appearance and clean organized dashboard for sellers. After another long night spent uploading my books (rather a quirky set-up for uploading), I hoped it would be another Scribd. Unfortunately, I’ve sold only a handful.
  • FiledBy–promotes itself as a marketeer for authors, telling the world what you as author are doing, where you are appearing. Since I don’t have a lot of public appearances, I have gotten no traffic from FiledBy to my websites. I’d like to know if it works for anyone else.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe if I put a lot of time in any of the above sites, I’d get a better return. The problem is, a day has only twenty-four hours. I can’t put bunches of time into every possible marketing outlet and hope it works. If you’re like me, you are author, salesman, CEO and you hold down a day job, so you and I must make judgment calls early on for what works or doesn’t, and then fish or cut bait (as they say).

Scribd was a similar effort, one I started several years ago. I had my books on Amazon as hardcover and wanted to participate in the ebook revolution (this was before I heard of Smashwords). My books are graphics-intensive with lots of tables. If you are a traditional fiction author, you aren’t aware that ereaders like iPad or Smashwords or anly other ereader don’t like the blockiness of pictures and tables. You can format them, but it’s expensive. So far, north of $200 each (I have nine books).ebooks

So I settled on pdf’s as my ebook option. I checked out Scribd back in 2007–it’s birth year. It bills itself as the largest social publishing and reading site in the world:

  • tens of millions of monthly readers
  • tens of millions of documents for free or for sale
  • used by companies such as the Chicago Tribune, Fox News, the Red Cross and UNICEF

I uploaded two books. All you do is create a FREE account, upload a Word or pdf document, add tag words for searching, a short description and you’re ready to go. I made them free access to the public because I wanted to see if I would get activity before investing the time to upload my next seven books.

Within the first week, I had two thousand reads, so I uploaded the rest of my books and set up my store. Once the books are online, all I had to do to sell them was attach a price and how much readers could see for free. Scribd provides a dashboard for sellers showing a list of books, how many visits, how many sales of which books over what time frame, comments from readers. They pay quarterly, deposited into my PayPal account.

That done, I waited again.

It took three months to get my first sale. By the end of the first year, I’d had only a handful. I pretty much decided this was (yet another) dead end…

…and then things popped. Maybe Scribd finally gained traction in the cybersphere. Maybe my blogs finally drove enough business there. Truth be known, I don’t know why, but now I have a steady flow of sales monthly. In fact, because they take only 20%, Scribd rivals Amazon for the money I make (I didn’t say surpasses, though. Amazon is my most lucrative venue for book sales).

To date, I have 90,000 reads. Sales are handled by Scribd. I never worry about uploads to customers, complaints, concerns–Scribd is like my marketing manager.

I still have a presence on all of the sites I bulleted, but still nothing is happening. Unlike Scribd where I now have in excess of 90,000 reads, Freado et al are well below two hundred. As a result, I continue to be on the hunt for more marketing avenues. Right now, my eye is set on Google Books.

More on that later.


12 thoughts on “Should You Use Scribd for Ebooks

  1. Pingback: 8 Free Online Marketing Tools for Writers « Jacqui Murray's WordDreams…

  2. Pingback: Writers book publishing sites – Bookemon and Freado – plus copy stuff « B2B-TechCopy Technology Marketing Blog

  3. Good moning, Jacqui! Let me know if you find the right partner. I’ll be doing a non-fiction project shortly on the cancer stuff (just diagosed this week with yet another rare thing out of the blue–staging not complete yet). Rather than trying to weave that topic into A Journey from Publishing Obscurity, I’m going to start a new blog dedicated to the subject at hand–and, like the Journey blog, I’ll eventually be publishing the work as an e-book. I like Scribd as well, but also like you, I’m willing to pay for some help with this octopus.

    Take care, and have a great weekend. –Cheri


    • I’m sure you’ll be able to use Smashwords. That’s the best one. I just got an invite to Barnes and Nobles’ PubIt. They’ll convert your pdf and Word doc to epub, but I’m sure they won’t like mine. If you’re not adding lots of pics and tables, PubIt will be a good idea. It’s free and opens up B&N’s readership.


  4. Anything that can go in a pdf can be uploaded to Scribd. My books are heavy in pictures, so I’m sure there’s no problem with a parchment watermark or background to enhance a personal note. That’s a clever idea, too.

    I don’t understand why ereaders don’t accept pdfs as well as epub formats. I’m sure at a point in the near future, that issue will be resolved.

    Thanks for stopping by, Anna. Where’s your blog? I checked Anna’s Passion but it doesn’t appear to be where you keep your current chats.


    • I have 3 blogs. The links are all along the right hand side. I also have a website – that link is there too. But most of my ‘chatting’ goes on on Facebook. I do try to respond to all my commenters either by going to their blog or sending them an email, if I can.


    • The pdf format is very flexible and has been around since the early 90’s.

      One of the big problems of pdf’s (for the publishers) is how to manage the copyright (DRM). It can be very expensive (licensing costs > $50,000) and needs infrastructure support. You can have a pdf “unlocked” (or viewable) for x number of days. Once the time expires, you can either renew or delete.

      EPub started around 2007 and has much better DRM support.

      Since Kindle and iPad supports pdf, it won’t be long until all eReaders have pdf support


  5. This is really good news. So they handle pdfs. I love my fonts. Several of my books have ‘hand written’ letters or notes and I like them to look hand written even to the point of having their own box – it sheet of paper (wish I could figure out how to make it look like parchment or note paper as the case may be) Will it support all that?



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