Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Books Media Your Rights Online

Scribd Becomes a DRM-Optional E-Bookstore 93

Posted by kdawson
from the going-legit dept.
Miracle Jones writes "In an effort to compete with Amazon and Google, the document-hosting website Scribd will now be letting writers and publishers sell documents that they upload. They will be offering an 80/20 profit-sharing deal in favor of writers. Writers will be able to charge whatever they want. In addition, Scribd will not force any content control (although they will have a piracy database and bounce copyrighted scans) and will let writers choose to encrypt their books with DRM or not. This is big news for people in publishing, who have been seeking an alternative to Amazon for fear that Amazon is amassing too much power too quickly in this brand-new marketplace, especially after Amazon's announcement last week that they will now be publishing books as well as selling them."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Scribd Becomes a DRM-Optional E-Bookstore

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I use Wolfram Alpha. At least for segments of 2001:A Space Odyssey....
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Will the money actually go to the rights-holders, and not just whoever uploaded it?

    • by Brian Gordon (987471) on Monday May 18, 2009 @09:40PM (#28005921)
      I wouldn't want my bank account tied to it if I'm profiting from commercial copyright infringement...
      • I wouldn't want my bank account tied to it if I'm profiting from commercial copyright infringement...

        Which is probably where identity theft and money laundering come in.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by MaskedSlacker (911878)
      Did you miss the part about bouncing copyrighted uploads from sources other than the rights holders? Obviously, any such system will be playing catch up permanently, but there's not much more they can do without chilling effects. You however, can do much more by working on your reading comprehension.
      • I assume they qualify for the DMCA safe harbor provisions - but so did YouTube and they were sued by Viacom and settled out of court.

        • All that means is YouTube didn't want to pay the lawyers to win the case.

          That being said, I'm not saying rightsexploiters (the traditional publishers) will be happy, but it seems clear they don't INTEND to let people upload other people's work for sale. As I said though, trying to police it themselves is a losing battle (short of restrictions on who can upload that will likely have chilling effects), and leaving it to rights holders to police will end in lawsuits.

          However--book piracy (I mean actual piracy

          • by bukuman (1129741)

            Good points all; but...

            YouTube has deep pockets and scribd may not.

            I agree that anything large enough to be a 'real' worry will be obvious and DMCA taken down in short order - but that argument also holds for music and video and so far I'm not aware of anyone who has stepped up to try to take a direct cut from a transaction like that. Actually I guess there are some analogous music selling sites, they could be predictors for what will happen in this case.

            I also agree that anything small 'the publishers' 'sh

            • by digitig (1056110)

              but *IAA will sue you for 9 songs ...

              Well, somebody ought to be sued for that awful movie...

  • Good for you (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dmomo (256005) on Monday May 18, 2009 @09:39PM (#28005907) Homepage

    Now can you kindly get out of my search results? When I am looking for technical resources on-line, I don't want your stinking eBook. Focus your SEO on people who want your product.

    Seriously. In the past month, they've been coming up more often and just getting in the way of useful info. I click on the link from Google because it looks like the info I want. Then I get this silly flash app that slows my computer down. The content in that app may well have relevant info, but that's not how I care to consume it when I am looking up references.

    They've really cheapened themselves in my mind. This was my first impression of them. SEO Scum. Now when I see that they actually have an interesting product, I'm soured on them. Kudo's for taking on the Giant in the e-book space. Shame on you for littering the Web.

    • Re:Good for you (Score:5, Informative)

      by tcopeland (32225) <{moc.dnalepoceelsamoht} {ta} {mot}> on Monday May 18, 2009 @09:46PM (#28005971) Homepage

      > Now can you kindly get out of my search results?

      So true! scribd is like applets used to be - when your browser freezes and no useful content comes up for 5 seconds, you know you've hit scribd and you quickly ctrl-w that tab.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by e9th (652576)
      I wouldn't worry too much. As Scribd starts to compete with Google, their search rankings will begin to shrink, almost as if by magic.
    • Re:Good for you (Score:5, Informative)

      by CarpetShark (865376) on Monday May 18, 2009 @10:02PM (#28006081)

      Seriously. In the past month, they've been coming up more often and just getting in the way of useful info.

      Agreed. Scribd is just a useless waste of space. They come up in results, but then you can't actually use the scribd documents like you would a webpage (say, searching and copying/pasting), or even a PDF. What's the point in having pages full of information if people can't get the information out of them?

      • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

        by dmomo (256005)

        Wow. So, I wrote that comment wondering if I would be modded as flame-bait. It's good to know I am not alone on this!

        Not to say they are not doing something good, they're just cheapening their brand on the way. In doing so, they're garnering hate.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by liquidpele (663430)
          No, it's definitely annoying... I actually made my custom google search page [google.com] to allow me to filter out certain domains, that one included. I wish google would allow you to not show certain domains you deem as worthless on their regular search though...
    • I opened a Scribd account just to write scathing things when they show up in my search results. I've also taken to reporting these hits as spam to google in the hopes that someone will investigate.

      It's very frustrating - most of the time, my search terms only ever appear on the list of search terms that has brought others to the page. 95% of the time, it's just an SEO feedback loop.

      • Re:Good for you (Score:5, Insightful)

        by el americano (799629) on Monday May 18, 2009 @10:54PM (#28006403) Homepage

        Ah, the infamous, "These terms only appear in links pointing to this page"

        I blame Google for this more than Scribd. You might think if I took the time to customize my search by including words that won't appear on irrelevant sites then Google would actually check if the terms I've entered are there! When I search on a result page for a term and get nothing, only then do I realize I've been duped. I don't even see a way to work around this limitation. Using something other than Google seems to be the only solution.

        • Using something other than Google seems to be the only solution.

          I don't get this. How is using a parrot the only solution?

        • by horza (87255)

          You mean like Googeefree [googeefree.com]? Just ask the author to add Scribd to Expert Exchange, the other cloaking SEO.

          Phillip.

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by colesw (951825)
            Actually I find a lot of the time I do find the answer I want on a Expert Exchange link, you just need to scroll down to the bottom of the page (past the, please sign up stuff) to see the results.

            I assume they had to do this so Google would continue to index their site (ie showing content to google, but not to people)
    • Re:Good for you (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Brian Gordon (987471) on Monday May 18, 2009 @11:24PM (#28006531)
      I'd love to see Google's SearchWiki nonsense actually work in this kind of situation. You should be able to click the X and never see anything from that domain again. Your Xing shouldn't just affect that results to that one query.
    • Is it just me or why do you blame a website for a problem with Google's index? If you're unhappy with the rankings, shouldn't you steer your anger to the provider of the rankings?
    • Flashblock is your friend.
    • by vtcodger (957785)
      Thank you. It's nice to know that I'm not the only person who finds scribd to be a truly awful machination. The concept and intent may be meritorious. The implementation sucks. Unreadably small type face that requires horizontal scrolling once you figure out how to get the text big enough to read. Lousy screen layout. Unlabeled icons that do stuff that nobody could possibly understand ... yech.
    • by backdoc (416006)

      Not to self promote, but I wrote a firefox extension for just this purpose. You can block Google search results with any phrase. I don't get any hits from scribd, experts-exchange and about.com. It also highlights preferred results. It's in Mozilla's sandbox. You can download it there. But, you have to have a free sandbox account to get to it. I call it GoogleCleaner.

      You can also get it on my website (a tiny DSL connection).

      http://www.crotchett.com

      Try it out and let me know what you think. The only

    • by parkrrrr (30782)

      Now when I see that they actually have an interesting product, I'm soured on them.

      So what's the interesting product? The summary makes them sound like just another vanity publisher, albeit on bits instead of on paper.

      (I confess I didn't actually look at their site, as I generally don't follow links when the summary looks so much like a regurgitated press release.)

  • by Unoti (731964) on Monday May 18, 2009 @09:42PM (#28005937) Journal

    Is it just me, or is Scribd super annoying? Often this happens to me: I'm searching for information about something. I'm clicking through Google links trying to figure out the answer to my question. I click on a promising-looking link, and then I end up on a screwed-up looking site that's basically totally unreadable. I've learned to recognize such piles of crap as scribd documents.

    There's a tiny little text box taking up like 6 cm by 5 cm of space with a scrollbar... I have multiple monitors, huge space on my desktop, and they're cramming all the content into this tiny little unreadable scrollable space. After a while I figured out that I could click a couple times and turn the content into something that was somewhat usable. But generally when a search puts me into a scribd document, I just hit the back button and look elsewhere. Only in a fit of pure desperation will I return to the scribd content, but usually I don't have to.

    Am I alone in feeling this way? perhaps I'm hopelessly backwards or something, but scribd annoys me greatly.

    • by smbruce (813346) on Monday May 18, 2009 @10:04PM (#28006097)
      I agree. I saw a "Sexy Web Design" book scroll across in the "What people are reading now..." section. Their web site designers might want to read through that.
    • by bcrowell (177657) on Monday May 18, 2009 @10:41PM (#28006329) Homepage

      There's a tiny little text box taking up like 6 cm by 5 cm of space with a scrollbar... I have multiple monitors, huge space on my desktop, and they're cramming all the content into this tiny little unreadable scrollable space.

      On my machine, it's 22 cm x 16 cm.

      A lot of people are posting about how much they hate scribd's UI, but I don't see that as the big problem with scribd.

      People have posted some of my books on scribd, and that's fine with me, because the books are free-as-in-speech. However, their system has some problems. For instance, if you search on scribd for "Newtonian Physics," which is the title of one of my books, the first 8 hits consist of 8 different uploaded copies of my book. Seems like a lot of scribd users don't bother checking to see whether something is already on scribd before they upload it. Now if I type in some text from my book as a search, only a few of the books come up, not all 8 -- don't ask me why. And when I click on the #1 search result, it's a version of the book from 2001, with an incorrect description and an incorrect license listed for it.

      I think the fundamental problem here is that they're not serving one of the traditional purposes of a publisher, which is to act as a filter. Filters can be good or bad. A filter doesn't have to be all-or-nothing, and it doesn't have to be elitist or authoritarian. Google page rank is a filter. Slashdot's moderation system is a filter. Scribd doesn't seem to have enough useful filtering mechanisms. It just seems to act as a huge dumping ground, where anyone can put anything. The trouble is that finding anything there is like saying, "Huh, I need a new cartridge for my antique fountain pen. Maybe I'll go down to the town dump and dig around for one."

      • by Unoti (731964)
        I do a lot of web development, and typically keep my browser around 1100px wide since that's around the size most of my target users use. If I get even more browsers, I may open that up a little...
      • by piojo (995934)

        [Scribd] just seems to act as a huge dumping ground, where anyone can put anything. The trouble is that finding anything there is like saying, "Huh, I need a new cartridge for my antique fountain pen. Maybe I'll go down to the town dump and dig around for one."

        Great analogy :). However, my girlfriend said (sounding offended) that antique fountain pens don't use cartridges, as they are a new invention.

      • by Eil (82413)

        I think the fundamental problem here is that they're not serving one of the traditional purposes of a publisher, which is to act as a filter.

        They're not filling one of the traditional purposes of a website either, which is to present content in a highly-portable markup language that is readable in all web browsers.

        Instead, they used Flash to embed PDFs into a little window on a website.

        With YouTube, Twitter, MySpace, Facebook, and now this, I really feel like the Internet is just getting stupider by the mon

        • by bcrowell (177657)

          They're not filling one of the traditional purposes of a website either, which is to present content in a highly-portable markup language that is readable in all web browsers. Instead, they used Flash to embed PDFs into a little window on a website.

          There are several different issues here.

          First there's the fact that PDF is almost completely nonproprietary (i.e., the functionality required by the vast majority of users for reading and writing PDFs is nonproprietary), whereas flash has a lot more propriet

      • by RobBebop (947356)

        It just seems to act as a huge dumping ground, where anyone can put anything.

        And again, the Internet is not something that you just dump something on. It's not a big truck. It's a series of tubes. And if you don't understand, those tubes can be filled and if they are filled, when you put your message in, it gets in line and it's going to be delayed by anyone that puts into that tube enormous amounts of material, enormous amounts of material.

  • Learn from Walmart (Score:4, Interesting)

    by n00btastic (1489741) on Monday May 18, 2009 @09:43PM (#28005951)
    Publishers just need to boycott Amazon if they don't want to be swallowed alive whole. Look at Walmart, who regularly forces it's will on suppliers and companies whose products they sell.
  • It seems like it will be a hard choice for content owners to decide which to choose.

    Those with strong opinions about copyright will choose based on their beliefs, but what about those who don't have strong beliefs? Will they choose to try to protect their work technically? Or will they choose to be more open.

    It's going to be interesting to see.

    • Given that for everyone except the far end of the power-law tail, openness is more profitable than control... And given that 80% of people are morons...fuck.
  • by bcrowell (177657) on Monday May 18, 2009 @09:53PM (#28006021) Homepage

    The Fiction Circus article linked to from the slashdot summary isn't as good as the NY Times article that it links to [nytimes.com].

    This is big news for people in publishing [...]

    No, not really. One reason it's not big news is that scribd is currently too small a commercial entity to make any difference in this big marketplace. Another reason it's not big news is that other people are already selling digital books without DRM. Fictionwise and Baen are two examples that come to mind.

    So, really, writers have absolutely no incentive to deal with Amazon anymore as their "bookstore," especially since the next generation of ebook readers will surely be touchscreen netbooks, making the Kindle look like a Tiger handheld next to the future's Game Boy.

    Well, no. Amazon is a huge, profitable business that readers know about. Scribd isn't. That's a pretty strong incentive for writers to deal with Amazon -- or, more accurately, it's a pretty strong incentive for their publishers to. The author generally doesn't make any decisions about the distribution channels through which a book gets to the public.

  • Eh Sonny? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday May 18, 2009 @09:56PM (#28006039) Journal
    Scribd? Are those guys the complete fucking morons that managed to turn what are pretty much normal PDFs into nigh-unreadable embedded flash monstrosities for no conceivable reason? Those guys?

    I can sympathize with the video guys who went flash. Until HTML 5 finally lurches its way into ubiquity, it is pretty much the best option. But text? The stuff that the internet has been carrying just fine thanks since it was an ARPA project? WTF?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Scribd's "iPaper" [scribd.com] page is laughably false. I remember it being even worse before, but it's still bad now:

      iPaper is a rich document format built for the web

      Kinda like PDF?

      iPaper will display documents in the same way regardless of whether you're using Windows, MacOS, or Linux

      So, it's like PDF?

      Your readers no longer have to download files or extra software to view your documents

      Because every computer in the world comes with Adobe Flash and not Adobe Reader. No sirree.

      But it gets worse:

      You can convert just about any major document format into iPaper, including Word docs, PowerPoint presentations, PDFs,OpenOffice documents, and PostScript files.

      Because apparently, PDF converters don't exist. There is no such thing as Acrobat Distiller or PDFCreator [sourceforge.net].

      Scribd documents are indexed by major search engines

      That's kind of like saying that "Volkswagen cars use engines" and touting that as a feature.

      Scribd's iPaper document viewer is embeddable in any website or blog

      Conclusion: Scribd is a needless Flash-based frontend to PDF. In

    • by steelfood (895457)

      This is copy protection at its finest. It's quite good as an anti-copying device, as it really makes attempts at breaking it not worth the time and effort, but not always necessary. Perhaps it should be up to the author what format in which the text appears.

      • it really makes attempts at breaking it not worth the time and effort

        From my experience with scribd.com, it's unnecessary. The content itself already accomplishes that.

    • It's so you can't copy & paste the text, dumbass. In addition, Flash ensures a consistent user experience, instead of relying on an untrustworthy browser to display content.
  • Great... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) on Monday May 18, 2009 @09:59PM (#28006063) Homepage
    Now everyone has a vanity press and considering Sturgeon's Law already applies to commercially-published books, I think it will have to be revised four percentage points. Thanks, internet.
  • USA Only = useless (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 18, 2009 @10:13PM (#28006155)

    "Sorry, purchasing documents on Scribd is only available from within the United States"

    Lost me right there.

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      YUDU.com has allowed you to buy and sell documents from the very beginning and it works worldwide. It allows you to change the currency depending on how you want to pay.

      It also has a better interface, IMO, and allows you to add multimedia (video, audio, Flash) to a publication as well as have others promote your publication and get paid a commission. Also, the DRM is much better.

      I think the reason why many people are complaining on this forum about Scribd documents coming up in search results is because of

  • Scribd and twitter, both from the web2.0 trend are not innovative technologies and there is very little need for such apps.
    • I really don't get the twitter hate. It seems like "blogs are just for internet attention whores" all over again. We've seen how that turned out already (I should know, I was firmly in the "what petulant crap, nothing of value will ever come of that" school of thought when I first heard about blogs--and I was wrong).

      There isn't any NEED for a hell of a lot of shit we do--depending on how you define need. But twitter lands on Maslow's hierarchy as easily as fancy cars or painting. Far easier in fact.

      I fi

      • by garphik (996984)
        True, it (twitter) can be at time surprisingly useful. Also I think one of prime moto of this kind of technology is to bring out as much personal info online as possible so that some one can do data mining on it as create business.
  • No Prestige (Score:5, Insightful)

    by curmudgeon99 (1040054) <curmudgeon99@noSPam.gmail.com> on Monday May 18, 2009 @11:35PM (#28006593)
    I don't know about you, but I didn't spend 6 years on a novel to piss it away on a free site. Anybody can do that. The standard of excellence will still remain publication by a major.
    • by BinaryTB (1556521)
      Tell that to Cory Doctorow, he gives his novels away for free. Even his latest Hugo Award nominated novel.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by diablillo (635954)
      Six years on a novel? Come on, what were you writting? The screenplay for Duke Nukem Forever?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by horza (87255)

        One of my favourite novels, Catch-22, took eight years to write. Some authors like to reach depths in their novels greater than the Barbera Cartland. This is why it is important to find a way of rewarding authors online, if not by scribd as they seem to have wrecked their reputation then by somebody else. You can reward a musician by going to their concerts, even if you pirate their music. A movie has made its money back through the box office even if you download a pirate version instead of buying the dvd.

    • by Eil (82413)

      I don't know about you, but I didn't spend 6 years on a novel to piss it away on a free site. Anybody can do that. The standard of excellence will still remain publication by a major.

      Dude. I hardly think getting published is any kind of suitable benchmark for excellence. Have you not been to a bookstore? An author's biggest hurdle in achieving financial success from his/her work isn't dealing with piracy, it's dealing with obscurity.

      I can't find an article to link to right now, but Cory Doctorow has had muc

      • The only reason you've heard of Cory Doctorow is because he has published (or his father has) in the traditional way. I will stand by my decision to go the majors. Enjoy your obscurity...
        • by Eil (82413)

          The only reason you've heard of Cory Doctorow is because he has published (or his father has) in the traditional way.

          Well, not really. I heard of Cory Doctorow because I heard him speak at a conference. He was invited to the conference because he's written some really well-received books that fit in with the theme of the con. The reason they were well-received was because he rose out of obscurity by giving his books away for free.

          I'm not saying that giving content away is a sure fire way to be noticed. Far

          • I have given away content for years. I have a website that gives away years of writing for free: Nebraska Writer [googlepages.com]. However, when you self publish--which is what giving away content is--you are on your own, re-inventing the wheel. Now, having working at B&N corporate in Manhattan, I have seen the great engines that publishers and booksellers have to market and sell books. If you want to do all that yourself--and have miserable results--be my guest. Cory Doctorow got his chance because he is the son of the
  • so? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Lord Bitman (95493) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @02:23AM (#28007905) Homepage

    Scribd sucks. every time I've seen a link to it, it seems like it's trying to be as crippled and useless as possible. The whole site seems to operate on "allow users to upload someone else's copyrighted work, display it to people in such a useless fashion that any copyright holder who might complain would assume it's some officially sanctioned DRM-loaded crapware"

    • You might have hit on to something--maybe their plan is to go DRM free without anyone noticing because no one wants to use their site anyway.

  • To be a competitor to Amazon people will have to have heard about it and I reckon most Kindle owners aren't even aware of a world outside of the Amazon store.
    Lulu and similar are the real competitors and I doubt they're too worried.
  • Just use flashblock to block that annoying PDF-reader-from-hell they embed in their pages and click the PDF link above the (now inactive) flash thingy. That way you can gain access to whatever they have to offer without having to suffer their misguided attempt at making it 'easy' to access it. Use Evince or gv or whatever to read the PDF (or a usable alternative if you're on an OS which is not supported by these, eg. Windows) and stay clear of Adobe's attempt to take over your computer.

    In other words, navig

  • And I sure as hell didn't put it there.

    Will see what the takedown procedure it tonight

panic: kernel trap (ignored)

Working...