Avid audiobook nerds tired of dealing with Audible's nonsense or long library queues now have a new way to get a steady stream of the good stuff.
Scribd just announced it will be reinstating an unlimited plan offering relatively unfettered access to e-books, audiobooks, news, magazines, documents and sheet music. Unfortunately, the service sounds like it won't be truly unlimited, capping downloads and streams at a certain point, but given how hard it can be to download a damn audiobook, it might still be a good option for those who prefer the digital or spoken page.
Whatever that hidden cap is, the new plan bumps Scribd users up from the previous three e-book and one audiobook monthly limit. (Any audiobook fan could tell you that one a month just isn't enough to get by!)
TechCrunch has reached out to Scribd to clarify the limits on their unlimited plans and will update when we hear back. According to an interview with Fast Company, the service axed the plans the first time around after a small amount of "superusers" consumed hundreds of titles per month, ruining the fun for everyone. Hopefully Scribd sets the limits low enough to keep the offering alive but high enough to not punish the normal sort of voracious reader that might read a ton of books per month but would never approach the century mark. Still, it's a dumb trend to call things unlimited when there are in fact hard limits, even if a company is evasive about the details (looking at you, mobile carriers).
Scribd in its announcement post reassures existing users that little will change:
You'll notice a slight change to your browsing experience: the Scribd Selects catalog has been removed and you will no longer see the unlimited toggle in search filters. Without the need for Monthly Credits for full access to titles available on Scribd, there's no longer a need for a separate Scribd Selects or unlimited catalog! If you find a book or audiobook that strikes your fancy, just start reading or listening - we'll handle everything else on our end.
As someone who is getting more into audiobooks (and reading a lot more because of it!), I downloaded Scribd to try out the 30-day free trial. Of the five genre-hopping books that I'm reading elsewhere through a patchwork of systems (Hoopla and Overdrive via my local library and Audible's paid service), a Scribd search shows all of them are available... all in one place, for once. While I've only used Scribd in the past for PDF embeds in stories (like those here on TechCrunch dot com), their iPhone app is already vastly more pleasant to browse than something like Audible or Hoopla. At $9 a month, I'd be happy to pay for a pleasant, navigable user interface, assuming the hidden cap doesn't hamstring the whole service — and I'm sure other people will feel the same way.