San Francisco based digital library service Scribd, which offers subscribers’ unlimited access to more than 500,000 e-books for $8.99 a month, recently announced that it had raised $22 million in additional funding, which brings Scribd’s funding to a total $48 million, in addition to previous backers Redpoint Ventures, Charles River Ventures, and Silicon Valley Bank who also invested in the new round.
Led by Khosla Ventures, with partner Keith Rabois (previously and Executive at LinkedIn, Slide, Square and Paypal) who joined the board as an observer, the funding round came into action. When asked via an email about the basic functioning of how the subscription business will work out for books, Rabois replied that that subscription model has already changed the way we consume other forms of content (in a similar fashion to Netflix). Rabois said that – with over 80 million users in nearly every country around the globe, the [Scribd] team is in a good position to grow to a massive audience.
Since its inception in 2007, Scribd incubated at Y Combinator and started out as a document sharing service, and while it still supports those features even today, last year its focus shifted to free and subscription based e-books, competing against the likes of Oyster and Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited Service.
CEO and co-founder Trip Adler commented – Scribd now reaches more than 80 million unique visitors every month, and while he did not clarify as to how many of those were actually paying subscribers, he did point out the subscriptions have been growing each month at an average 31 percent since the service was officially announced in October 2013.
Just a few month back, Scribd also expanded its digital library by starting offering audiobooks. When asked about how the response was, co-founder Adler replied that it had beaten our expectations, with users have already consumed 180,000 hours of audiobooks.
More questions followed as to what the company believes whether the subscription model has proven itself in the e-book world, to which Adler replied – from my perspective, it did prove out. However according to industry standards there are still both ends of the spectrum.
He noted that Scribd is working closely with two of the five big publishers (HarperCollins and Simon & Schbuster that are mostly offering older “Blacklist” titles), and added that by the end of 2015, we believe that all of major player in the industry will be on-board.