San Francisco-based startup Scribd has just launched the beta version of a potentially exciting new opportunity for authors, publishers, and readers. I hesitated before including the DIY label in the subject line because it may be misleading, given that Scribd has done some business with major publishers such as Random House, according to today’s New York Times piece, “Scribd Invites Writers to Upload Their Work and Name Their Price.” But Scribd’s roots are all about document-sharing and a Youtube-like DIY approach for those who understand that uploading is the new downloading.
Scribd stands out among innovators in the arena of connecting digital text authors and publishers with digital readers, because (1) it offers some compelling reasons for faith that it could actually work; and (2) it is not Amazon.
By “actually work,” I mean that it could actually lead to significant sales and exposure for ebook authors and other content providers. By “not Amazon,” I am getting at the notion that, if it proves viable, Scribd could actually provide authors and publishers with an effective counterbalance in a marketplace where Amazon currently threatens to establish such hegemony that the rest of us could end up feeling as if any effort to influence pricing, royalties, sales, and important issues such as Digital Rights Management (DRM) and copyright is utterly ineffectual.
Scribd will allow authors and publishers to upload their content, establish their own approach to DRM, and keep 80 per cent of the proceeds from content sales. That’s not a bad start, and these claims from the Scribd site go even further:
- “Tens of millions of people visit Scribd every month; your work could be discovered by the world.
- Every document on Scribd gets frequently indexed by Google, which means better audience targeting for your work.
- Your documents will be viewed the way it was meant to be – with its unique fonts, graphics, and other details.
- Check out detailed stats on viewers, ratings, downloads, and more.
- Take your document anywhere; just copy the embed code and insert it into a blog or website.”
The site also provides user-friendly uploading tools for Mac as well as PC users.
Naturally, I’ll want to have my cake and eat it too: to upload content to Scribd and to be able to read it on my Kindle. No doubt there will be a number of ways to do this, and we’ll be posting more about them in the future.