Scribd Looks To Apps And E-Readers To Lift Its Profile

Social publishing site Scribd is hoping to capitalize on the hype over apps and e-readers with a slew of products aimed at portable devices in the coming weeks. The San Francisco company’s founder Trip Adler tells the WSJ Scribd will unveil a “send to mobile” feature this month that will make it easier to bring its 10 million documents to smartphones and e-readers.

The effort is part of an “open strategy” that will make Scribd’s documents compatible with all manner of e-reader devices, including the iPhone, iPad, Amazon’s Kindle, Google’s Android system and beyond. Scribd, which wants to build on the roughly 50 million users it attracts every month, realizes it’s going up against the forces of DRM, although the EPub open format has been getting some traction.

Still, Scribd will have to convince mobile users that the trade-off for free and open document sharing requires putting up with ads around some content and paywalls on copyrighted works from its e-commerce store, which offers publishers an 80 percent take of the revenue.

E-commerce has been an area Scribd has wanted to grow. And while it sees an opportunity with the proliferation of devices, the e-commerce effort has remained fairly small since it started last spring. Currently, the WSJ notes, only 5 percent of the e-books on Scribd are copyrighted. For now, with devices fighting over prices for copyrighted material, Scribd is content to make its big mobile push with free stuff. After it hooks more users with its free docs and e-books, the hope is that it could make some more moves on the e-commerce end.