Books

I tried Scribd Audiobooks for a month | Review

I love reading books, I love listening to podcasts, so technicallyyyyy – I should love Audiobooks right?

Let’s find out.

I decided to try out Scribd’s one month free trial. For those of you who don’t know, Scribd is a one stop centre for knowledge and entertainment; offering a wealth of e-books, audiobooks, magazines and podcasts. So for this review, I would be focusing solely on the audiobooks part of its offering because..well I already have my own e-book reader.

I will be structuring my review in two parts:
Part 1: Review of the general experience with the subscription service (listening experience, UI, selection of books)
Part 2: The impact on Audiobooks on reading (is it more effective than traditional reading?)

Let’s get into it!

Part 1: Experience with the Subscription Service

User interface

First impressions were really good. I enjoyed the clean looking design of the app.

At the top, it’s neatly organised based on what sort of content are you looking for – be it Audiobooks, books or magazines and scrolling down, it’s organised by titles you have saved, and book recommendations based on your reading history, making it super easy to discover new books.

In the Search tab, you’ll see that the app is keeping track of the genres you appear interested in and they offer a really wide range of titles to choose from.

Selections of books

There are so many books to choose from! A lot of them are included for free within your free trial at no additional cost. Contrasting this to Audible, despite having a one month free trial, they actually provide you with credits instead which honestly just gets you one book and you have an entire month to check out just a small selection of free podcasts and Audible originals…which mean honestly you can’t even read that many books and fully test out the app for a month so that’s a huge brownie point to Scribd!

I noticed for some books they also offer Key Insights, which makes it easy for you to browse the key points of the book if you don’t feel like committing to it for hours. So it feels like the app ‘Shortform’ as well.

There are quite a few new books as well, like I have been eying Alex Michaelides’s new book ‘Maiden’ and noticed that the app will be launching it on the 25th June 2021 and considering that the book was officially published on the 10th June 2021, I’d say 2 weeks is pretty fast.

Listening experience

However, listening experience wise…I think Scribd still needs to up their game. Off the bat I noticed, it buffers pretty frequently and I find it quite disruptive to my reading experience, especially when I’m actually listening to it when I’m doing something else so I need to drop everything and try to figure out what’s wrong.

It also occasionally stops or crashes completely which then a notification as follows pops up. I would have to restart the entire app just to get going again. This is definitely the most unpleasant part of using the app.

Part 2: The impact on Audiobooks on reading

Audiobooks vs Traditional books – ahhh the age old debate. So this part of the review explores the pros and cons of Audiobooks. I will try to address two key questions:

  • Efficiency: Does it help me read more books?
  • Effectiveness : Do I takeaway from the book as much I would have if I read it tradtionally?
How efficient is it ?

To start off, I’d say yeah! It definitely helped me read more books. Throughout the one month trial, I actually read 5 books! Easilyyyy. I think it also helps that I could adjust the speeds accordingly hehe. I often listen to it while grocery shopping, while cooking, sometimes while I’m stretching or when I’m working on something that doesn’t require much concentration. If this was a pre-pandemic world I’d be listening to it on my commute to work.

So I completed 5 books for the month! Amounting to approx 51 hours of listening time – ie. Average of 1.7 hours per day!

Felt like I milked this free trial for sure hahah

Book titles:

  • Jenny Lawson – Broken (8hours)
  • Peter Swanson – 8 perfect murders (8hours)
  • Yuval Hariri – Sapiens (15 hours)
  • Hype by Gabrielle Bluestone (10 hours)
  • Elephant in the Brain (10 hours)

Book reviews included in:

However I must say, because there is just so much number of hours you can listen to an Audiobook, there is an opportunity cost. Because I was spending more time listening to Audiobooks, I barely caught up on my favourite podcasts all month. While audio-reading is great, sometimes, a book deep dives on a specific topic vs a podcast which may be more brief, allowing me to explore more ideas in a shorter amount of time. So I’d say – sure you can read a ton but that would be exchange of something else.

How effective is it ?

I’d say reading a non-fiction book is effective if it helps you fully digest a lesson from a book or when you can effectively take notes, and if it’s a fictional book, it’s effective if it can keep you as engaged.

Given that I only read one fictional book, I’d say it’s a pretty good experience! It felt like a friend telling you a story during a hangout and in fact it made me more aware of what good writing is – or how good a dialogue is. You know how when something sounds great in your head or on paper and suddenly you say it out loud and it’s like damn that sounds bad? Yeah so I could definitely pick that out easier while listening to a fictional audiobook.

It’s no surprise that for non-fiction books, it’s really hard to note take. When I have an aha moment, I had to jot it down in my phone’s notes and then transfer it to my notion later on which is pretty cumbersome. Though, it helped when there are drier parts of the books – like I thoroughly enjoyed Sapiens but some parts could be pretty dry. I’m sure I would have just glanced over the words if I wasn’t listening to it.

Conclusion

I think if you are trying to get into the habit of reading, definitely give Scribd Audiobooks a try. With just a price tag of $9.99 USD monthly and a wide selection of books to choose from – it’s definitely worth it! If you really wanted to stretch your dollar, give this free trial a try, share it with a friend and get another month free!

I think audiobooks suit those who are audio learners, enjoy multitasking and reading to occupy their time. If you aren’t as anal as I am, about note taking and wanting to listen to podcasts instead, I’m sure you will enjoy it.

But for myself, I prefer reading books the traditional way 🙂

Hope you enjoyed the review! Have you tried it before?
Do let me know in the comments below !

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