This week marks the second anniversary of moving my virtual library over to Scribd.com*, and while last year I had a lot of positive news to report, much changed with the site over the course of 2009 that didn't improve the service. The two primary changes that happened last year: 1) Scribd Twitterized itself, wiping out the helpful e-mail correspondence service it provided for me and replacing it with social media "scribbling" that I can't use because it's incompatible with my VRS, and 2) Scribd became an online publisher ala Amazon.com's self-pub via Kindle store.
As an experiment I did test Scribd's self publishing for profit venture by putting up Way of the Cheetah for a couple of months at a token $1.00/copy. It's safe to say that the only copies that sold were due to my announcements here and other writers who supported it on their blogs. I have not yet been paid for any of the copies that were sold on Scribd (evidently they hold onto the money until you earn $100.00, and since I don't intend to sell anything else on Scribd I'll probably never see a dime.) Since Scribd refuses to sell documents to overseas readers, I won't be using them again. Still, in good faith I have donated an amount matching what should have been my portion of the WotC Scribd profits to help out another writer with a legal battle (100% of my profits from WotC, btw, have been used to assist other writers and aspiring student writers.)
The few times I contacted Scribd's staff about a problem in 2009, I received mildly indifferent to moderately hostile responses. Which I find as puzzling as the aggressive tone of the unsolicited e-mails they've sent me. I'm fairly approachable, I think, and I always try to be polite, but I really don't care for some marketing person telling me to start immediately responding to messages from the twelve thousand people Scribd decided to give access to the "scribbling" area sprawling down the center of my home page -- this without even asking me if I wanted to participate in this social media blitz. In Scribd's defense, they obviously didn't know about my unusual situation or how much I depend on VRS now.
Also, when I politely asked that they remove my name off whatever star-studded author list they put me on (which I assume resulted in the flood of scribblers) they did finally stop the tsunami. The person handling that was very terse and unpleasant about it, however, and did not to restore my old account as it was, so I felt that wasn't resolved appropriately. A friend suggested I manually unsubscribe from all the unwanted scribblers, but I didn't subscribe to them in the first place; I don' feel it's my job to go through the unsubscribe process 12,000+ times (plus how do I pick and choose?) So now the few but helpful comments and messages I was getting from my readers on Scribd are lost among the thousands of irrelevant messages, spam, and other crap flooding my account (and I apologize to anyone whose comments or questions on Scribd that I missed since last August when they did this to me.)
On the plus side, Scribd remains (for now anyway) a free hosting site, and I'll probably keep my virtual library with them for as long as they don't try to charge me for the service. I don't know if I will upload any more free books to the site, though; I'm not really a fan of their staff or how they're doing business. I might talk to the guy over at LibraryThing (which is more my style anyway) and see if I can work out some kind of hosting thing there. I think with the direction Scribd is taking, they're going to eventually be gobbled up by Google or Amazon anyway, so it's probably best I start looking for some new accommodations for my freebies.
*Note 9/3/10: Since Scribd.com instituted an access fee scam to charge people for downloading e-books, including those I have provided for free for the last ten years, I no longer recommend using their service. See my post about this scam here.