October 1, 2013, 2:40 PM

Digital library Scribd launches an online book subscription service

HarperCollins Publishers will offer titles through Scribd.

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Digital library Scribd today launched an online subscription service that consumers read an unlimited number books in its collection on any web-enabled device for $8.99 per month. Adding to the available titles, the company also announced that HarperCollins Publishers has agreed to make the majority of its backlist titles—those not recently published—in its U.S. and Christian collections available to Scribd subscribers. Consumers can also buy digital titles from the entire HarperCollins catalog from Scribd, it says.

Scribd says it has more than 40 million free book titles and other written works like academic papers in its online catalog, along with premium titles available for purchase. Since its founding in 2007, the company has grown the number of consumers reading via its web site and apps each month to more than 80 million, it says.

For HarperColllins, the deal represents an opportunity to generate revenue from electronic versions of older titles. “HarperCollins is excited to reach an innovative partnership with Scribd that monetizes its audience through traditional retail and a subscription offer for our backlist titles,” says Brian Murray, president and CEO, HarperCollins Publishers Worldwide. “HarperCollins authors will benefit from extended reach, increased discovery and improved royalty streams.”

The Scribd web site features book ratings and reviews—including the number of times a title has been read by Scribd readers and its number of “likes” on Scribd—plus reader-submitted documents, such as study guides or plot summaries. If a consumer has enabled sharing, the site will also display to her friends what titles she’s read.

“Since starting Scribd six years ago, we have gained a lot of experience building a library of books and written works, growing a global community and gathering data on what readers and publishers want,” says Trip Adler, CEO and co-founder of Scribd. “Those insights have helped us build a product that we believe delivers on a new and better reading experience by giving our customers instant access to a vast collection of books to read, across a wide array of the top digital devices, all for one low monthly price.”

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