Tag Archives: ereading

Impressions of Scribd’s New Terms

scribd-logo-marketingbuildingIf you’ve been following the ebook world at all, you probably know that Scribd, the subscription ebook/audiobook/comic book service changed its terms starting in March. Where the ebooks and comics had previously been “all you can read,” now users accumulate monthly credits (3 per month, and you can accumulate up to 9) to “spend” on books. There are also rotating monthly “Scribd Select” books which can be read for that month without using credits, and there are a number of unlimited books which can freely be read at any time.

Understandably, there was little rejoicing in the land when the new terms were announced. Readers were upset at being limited to only 3 books a month, and many felt that the unlimited selection was pretty limited. I’m certain that many unsubscribed, but I had never been one to read tens of books in a month, so I decided to stay on and see what I thought of the new terms.

Short impression. I actually like it more than the old terms, if you can believe it. Not only that, I think I am actually reading more than I did. And now that you are convinced I am insane, let me explain.

I am someone who thrives on a certain amount of structure. I have been a huge fan of Scribd since the beginning, and I personally never wanted to overuse it, so every month my question was, “How many books should I read in it?” (I’ve had doubts about the viability of their business model from the beginning, and since I loved the service, I didn’t want to be one of the ones who “broke” it.) Yes, I’m probably the exception here, but anyone else who loves structure will understand where I am coming from.

Now, it’s clear. If I want, I can read until I run out of credits, or I can bank a few credits for vacation months.  I’ve generally used the service for big publishing books, so I know the ones I read are the expensive ones. If Scribd thinks they can afford for me to read three in a month, then that’s what I’ll read. I don’t need to use the unlimited books because I always have plenty of library books and purchased books to keep me going when I’ve used my three credits. I’ve been using Scribd as a supplemental source of reading, not the primary, and that hasn’t changed.

A note to comic book lovers. Comics are considered unlimited. While I prefer using Comixology and their guided view, if you don’t care, you can read all the comics you like. Since comics go quickly, I’m glad they don’t fall under the credits option. I could use three credits on comics in less than an hour, if I weren’t careful.

I love the “Scribd Selects” options. The May selections showed up a day or two late this month, and I checked every day until they appeared. Happy Day! One of the May select books was the one I had been wanting to read next anyway. Superb timing.

I admit I have been taking advantage of an intermittent glitch. I’ve been able to read several books without spending a credit on them. I’m sure they were neither unlimited nor Select books. I think their program isn’t handling books in series correctly. I spent a credit for the first book in a particular series, and then was able to read the rest of the series for free. Scribd folks, if you are reading this, you might want to take a look at that. Readers, take advantage of it while you can. 🙂

I’ve been pleased that the service still meets my needs. Since most of the books I read in it are priced at $9.99 and up, reading three or so in a month still saves me a lot of money. If the big publishers wise up and lower their prices, I might revisit this, but for right now, it’s working for me

The iPhone 6S+ As a Reading Device

iPhone portraitAnd to think I used to read on a Handspring Visor and then on a Blackberry Curve. At one point, screen size was obviously not an issue for me. That has changed, and I stopped reading on phones when I got my first Kindle.

A couple of months ago, I replaced my glitchy HTC One M8 with an iPhone 6S+, and I have rediscovered the possibilities of reading on my phone. It’s not going to replace my iPad Mini 4, but for reading on the go, it’s not bad at all.

I gave it a good workout a couple of weeks ago when we were at Disney World, land of the long lines. We only had one brutally long line (over 90 minutes), and I spent most of that wait reading on my phone (when I wasn’t playing Candy Crush Saga), which worked quite well. My main ereading app is Marvin, which uses Dropbox to sync locations, so it was easy to stop reading on my iPad in the hotel room and pick up again in the park.

My biggest problems with previous phones has been the aspect ratio. Phone screens are just to narrow for me to comfortably read on. The iPhone 6S+ is still a bit narrow, but the entire device is large enough that I can forget about it as soon as I am lost in the book.

My secondary reading app is Scribd, which doesn’t sync as smoothly as Marvin, but I can make it work. Where Scribd comes in handy is with audiobooks. They were buggy on my HTC, but the app works fairly reliably on my phone. If you are a heavy audiobook reader, their service isn’t for you, but I’m fine with spreading my listening around. I mostly subscribe to Scribd for the ebooks, so any audiobooks I listen to are an added bonus.

iPhone landscapeOne of my great delights in life is reading while eating. I used to take my Kindle and later my iPad with me to a restaurant, but the case I purchased for my phone turns into a stand. It’s a wallet case as well, so most of the time when I leave the house, all I take is my phone, with a credit card and my driver’s license. Handy!

Yes, it is a big phone, and I thought that was going to be a problem, but so far it hasn’t been. I barely notice when I’m carrying it around the house. It fits well in all my bags, and with the sturdy case, I can just carry it in my hand. I wasn’t able to use my HTC one-handed, so I’m accustomed to two-handed use.

I love the phone, not just as an ereader, but for everything else. I won’t watch an entire movie on it, nor will I curl up with it on the couch to read a book, but for almost everything else, it meets my needs. My iPad stays home, and my iPhone goes with me everywhere.

If you have any specific questions about the iPhone 6S+, and what it’s like to carry around a brick masquerading as a phone, don’t hesitate to ask in the comments. I love geeking out over my tech and answering questions.

The iPad Mini 4 is the Perfect eReader For Me. And Maybe For You

marvin on iPadLast year I upgraded my iPad 4 to an iPad Mini (4th generation) and wrote about my new tablet as a great writing device. It’s still a great writing device, for all the reasons I wrote about in November. What I hadn’t anticipated is that it would become the perfect eReader as well.

I’ve used many readers, starting with a Handspring Visor (anyone remember those?) back in the 90s. I’ve read on my phone, on various tablets and on eInk readers like my current Kindle Paperwhite. Something has always been missing. Phones aren’t quite big enough, especially as my eyes age. My previous iPads were just a bit too big to curl up with on the couch. Nooks and my Kindle Fire had issues. eInk devices can’t display comics well, and they don’t support Scribd, still my favorite ebook subscription service.

Then along came the Mini, which does everything.

It’s the perfect size for me. I can curl up and hold it comfortably everywhere: bed, couch, chair, dining room table or car. It’s small enough to fit in a shoulder bag and light enough that it doesn’t weigh me down. The screen is amazing, subtly better than my old iPad. It’s even readable in direct sunlight, which was a huge surprise. I bought an indulgent leather case from Sena, which makes it a joy to hold.

I do most of my reading in the Marvin app, which I wrote about extensively when I was with Teleread. It has enough options to satisfy almost any ebook reader:

  • Extensive formatting controls
  • The ability to show/hide reading progress
  • A timer to remind you to go to bed–I use this one all the time
  • 1 tap switch between color themes–I alternate between sepia, light gray and cream on dark gray
  • Lots of library management options

And that’s just the beginning. If you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend giving it a look. Unfortunately, it’s iOS only. Also, it only works with DRM-free books.

Now that I have upgraded to an iPhone 6S+, the Marvin sync feature comes in handy. While I don’t like reading on even a large-screen smartphone for long periods, the 6S+ the ideal on-the-go ereader. Marvin’s sync feature works flawlessly, allowing me to pick up and leave off, just as if I were using the Kindle app.

Looks like Steve Rogers should have bought an iPad.
Looks like Steve Rogers should have bought an iPad.

However, as I indicated earlier, I also read in Scribd and purchase the occasional comic to read in Comixology. Because of the guided panel view in Comixology, the smaller screen size of the Mini isn’t an issue. Scribd, of course, works well on the iPad, so, for the first time, I can do all my reading on one device. I realize some people don’t mind switching devices, but except for the brief phone sessions, I prefer to have one go-to device.

I haven’t abandoned my Paperwhite. It’s still going to be the camping reader. Some of the places we camp don’t have power, and a Kindle is easier to keep charged under those conditions. Other than camping, though, my other devices are feeling kind of abandoned right now.

“What about cost?” you ask. Yes, Apple devices are expensive. For me, what I realized after I purchased the Mini is that I had been spending a decent amount of money on other devices trying to find the one that worked for me. If I had just bought the original Mini, I would have saved a lot of money. On the other hand, experimentation showed me exactly what I wanted from my tablet, so I can’t say the money was wasted. My experience with Apple products is that they are worth the price, but my priorities might be different from yours. If you are leaning in that direction and need the push, go for it. If you’re a happy Fire or Android user, stick with what works for you.

Who knows?  A few months from now I might find the next perfect device, but right now, my Mini is the one.