Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Scribd.com Gets Greedy

It's been brought to my attention that Scribd.com has begun charging people to download my free e-books hosted on their site. To get around my copyright and the free distribution notice I've placed in each e-book, they are using an archive subscription scam to make their money (this also neatly avoids them having to pay me any royalties on the profits they make.) Evidently all the money they've been raking in from the Google ads they've posted on my e-book pages hasn't been enough for them.

I was not made aware of this new policy by Scribd at all; a reader kindly brought it to my attention. If you have free stories or documents hosted on this site, chances are they're doing the same to you.

I immediately contacted Scribd.com and demanded an explanation, which they provided at their leisure. Basically they washed their hands of any liability and ethics by telling me it was my problem, not theirs. In order to prevent Scribd from further profiting from my free books, I have to remove each e-book individually from their archives (for instructions on how to do this, see Scribd's instructions here.) As I discovered this morning this is going to take a considerable amount of time for me to accomplish, and it's not a permanent solution; they tell me I'll have to check the documents regularly to see to it that they aren't arbitrarily returned to the archive, where Scribd can then again start charging people to download them.

I find the situation particularly ironic, as anyone can bootleg my work on the internet with no problem, yet when I try to give it away for free, greedy people still try to make a buck off it. Writers just can't win.

Honestly, I do not want to deal with this garbage right now, and I'm tempted to delete the entire library this morning and say the hell with it. However, I've been giving away these books for ten years, and I'm not going to allow the greed of others hoping to make a surreptitious buck off my name to defeat me.

I may still have to take down my library of free reads. For now I will be researching other options, removing my free e-books one by one from Scribd's archive scam, and see if I can find a solution that doesn't cost my readers anything or make my head explode.

In the meantime, please do NOT pay Scribd.com to access or download my free e-books. If you are asked to pay ANYTHING for any of the thirty e-books I have on Scribd, and you can't wait until I find a solution, contact me at LynnViehl@aol.com and I will personally send you a free download of whatever you'd like.

Added: I think I've found a solution, but I still have to test it out and make sure it works. Unfortunately I have to finish some revisions to meet a deadline first. Please be advised that I will be removing my library of free e-books and documents from Scribd.com as soon as I get everything transferred over to the alternative site and make sure the links work. This will happen probably within the next couple of days.

Added 9/2/10: I've temporarily transferred my free library over to Google Docs, which allows anyone to read them online or download them in .pdf format for free. I tried to delete my documents and account on Scribd, but despite numerous attempts their web site was unresponsive, so I've contacted them and told them to take it down. Hopefully they will do so quickly; in the meantime please use the Google Doc links listed on the Freebies page here and please do NOT pay Scribd.com anything to access my free e-books.


  1. Anonymous8:07 AM

    I'm not sure how Google Books works, but you may want to check that out. I've been able to get whole books from there. The problem is that I can't download them; I have to read them right on the site.

  2. Scribd is evil. Good luck getting your stuff moved. You can always host them on your own site and provide links to download.

  3. ....aaaaaaand deleted my account. I really can't stand scammers.

    Thanks for the heads-up.

  4. I recommend Smashwords.com. I have three books there now, with another going shortly, and they've been great.

    Plus, their free books get distributed to B&N, Kobo, Sony eReader, and others, which is nice for getting additional readers. (One of mine is free... the rest are $0.99.)

    My free one is also at Scribd, so thanks very much for the heads-up. Off to check it out now!

  5. Interesting... when I'm logged in I can download my book with no request for money (which does make sense) but when I go in with my Facebook account I'm then hit with the archive fee.

    Not impressed.

  6. Anonymous9:32 AM

    Welcome back. You have been missed. Not surprised about SCRIBD. Greed seems to be rampant right now. Among other unfair items, Dorchester publishing's sudden announcement of no more mass market books. Effective Sept 1 only e-books (At full price) with trade size later. Writers have it tough enough without reducing their market.

  7. I have a possible solution for you. If you want to contact me at pam AT scrappypam DOT com I'll be glad to tell you more about it. (No, not a scam - you used to know me as Jinx from FM.)

  8. Your post inspired me to look into Google Docs, and it appears that you can upload your PDF files and allow them to be shared by anyone. I tried it with a PDF you posted way back when, and it seems to work.

    I'm nervous about leaving the link out at the moment (I'm just a wee bit concerned with allowing everyone access anywhere near my google account), but if you shoot me an email, I'll send you the link and you can try it yourself.

  9. I discovered this today myself. I immediately thought "I wonder what PBW thinks about this?" :-)

    With your blogger/google account you have access to google docs and can share pdfs there.

    Another alternative (and my favourite) is Posterous which does a *really* nice job of presenting the pdfs, allows fullscreen viewing online and a download link.

    Neither of these will limit you on uploads or bandwidth, I believe.

    Also check out DropBox. The free account is limited to 2gb uploads, but I'm unsure about bandwidth.


  10. To add to my earlier comment, I just noticed that Posterous is using Scribd to serve the pdfs, so maybe don't use them. Pity.

    It seems Scribd is only hitting us up for $ when coming in to the site from certain places.


  11. UGH. I HATE scammers. I'm so sorry that happened to you! I set up a little website for a friend who wanted to be able to put up her stories for free.

    I used Google's website maker, and it was pretty easy. It let me put up either PDFs or Word Documents. I remember the traffic limit being pretty generous, and it was easy (I am not good with complex HTML). That might be an option for you. It's just sites dot google dot com and I used the file/archive type page.

  12. Scribd seems to have based its business model not on hosting other people's content, but on actively exploiting it. Here's another example from a year ago:


  13. oh nasty...I had two free previews there and was thinking about loading a project I'm doing onto their site when I was done, but I just deleted the previews and I won't be using their site for anything now.

    You might was to try Smashwords. It's a decent service-I've used it, lets you select multiple formats if people don't want to download just in PDF and they are really good about respecting author copyright, too-they don't want pirates there-unlike some sites that just don't care.

    Formatting is hassle, though.

  14. The Book Addicts are spreading the word about Scribds greed.

    This is really lame of them to do so.

  15. I don't find them wanting to make money out of their service that unreasonable, but not notifying you, and making money off your content without paying royalties is out and out theft. Crazy that they thought they could get away with it. Thanks for the heads up and good luck with your deadline.

  16. I was actually thinking of using Scribd as another way to distribute my writing. I guess it's off my list.

    To the person who mentioned Smashwords' distribution agreements to Kobo, etc. You have to fulfill the requirements for getting into their premium catalog, and that includes having a cover for your book.

  17. Mediafire? I have a lot of things posted there. There's no charge, the bandwidth limit is such that hundreds of people would need to be downloading at a time...

    I'm still wondering if there isn't something you can do about pages here.

    I have a little site where a group of us were posting stories from writing prompts. If your solution doesn't work, let me know.

    And gosh, I missed you!


  18. Thanks for posting this. I just started using Scribd this year - Now I'll take my stuff down. Whether it applies to mine or not is irrelevant...I don't want to support a policy like that.

    Good luck getting things cleaned up...

  19. Think I'll stay away from uploading anything to Scribd. Maybe I'll try Smashwords instead.

  20. Another vote for Smashwords.

    And soooo glad you're back.

  21. I had been considering putting a couple of short stories up on Scribd once I finished polishing them.

    Not happening.

    I think I'll be looking into Smashwords next. Thanks to all who suggested it.

    Then again, maybe I can just upload them to Google Docs and make a page on my blog with the links... That will probably be the easiest thing to do. *Then* I can look into other methods of distribution. ^_^


  22. Somebody suggested mediafire-

    This is just me, but personally, I'd vote against that. Anybody considering them, they are another site that lets pirates make merry, making a ton of money off advertising and making authors jump through hoops to protect what's theirs.

  23. The bad behavior of some folks just leaves me dumbfounded. This is the last thing you needed.

    Good luck with the deadline.

  24. Eh. Can't you read a TOS and make sense of it?

    I warned everyone about this. Here's the wrap-up post with backlinks: Scribd: Why Is Anyone Surprised?

    Do what you will, but you LOST ALL CONTROL the minute you agreed to their TOS.

  25. Anonymous8:20 AM

    Since they are NOT your publisher, this probably wouldn't work, but I really like the Baen Free Library. I don't agree with all the politics of the authors, (and lots of politics in SF makes me lose interest in reading a series anymore) but I have tried more authors (and bought more subsequent books) than I normally would have because of their online free library.

    Well, just a suggestion. I'm reading the Kyndred series solely because of the free companion piece you put on Scribd (when it was still free, I guess) and I'm rooting for you!

  26. Thanks, everyone, for the advice. I'm working on a solution.

    I really loved this comment:

    Mike Cane wrote: Eh. Can't you read a TOS and make sense of it?

    Hi. How are you? Welcome to PBW. And yes, I can read and make sense of lots of things. Shocking, I know, but there you have it.

    I warned everyone about this. Here's the wrap-up post with backlinks: Scribd: Why Is Anyone Surprised?

    Gee, somehow I missed your warning. Maybe because you've never come here before today and I don't know who you are. But thanks for posting the link. I'll be sure to check it out in my spare time.

    Do what you will, but you LOST ALL CONTROL the minute you agreed to their TOS.

    You're right, I did. But you don't have to type in all caps, I can read lower case letters fine.

    Thanks again for visiting and have a lovely day.

  27. Sorry to read that happened to you, Lynn. I hope the solution you found works for you. Hang in there.

    And if this makes any difference in your day, I finished reading Dream Called Time and loved it. You gave me the perfect end to Cherijo's story. Thank you.

  28. It's nice to hear your voice again, despite the issue. Hope this is worked out to your satisfaction soon, as it was one of your free reads (Midnight Blues) that had me out buying your backlist as fast as I could. Now I'm hooked, and I think it's genius. And I loved your response to that little ray of sunshine that stopped in...

  29. Can't wait to read them!!


  30. I have some good news! I spoke with Scribd and they have now added an option for authors to PERMANENTLY OPT OUT of the archive program.


    It doesn't make what they did any less wrong, but their swift resolution of this issue is nice to see. Thanks for bringing this to everyone's attention with your blog post!

  31. Evil Wylie wrote: I have some good news! I spoke with Scribd and they have now added an option for authors to PERMANENTLY OPT OUT of the archive program.

    Thank you for taking the time to do this. Although I am done with Scribd, and will shortly be deleting my library there, it's good to know there is now a way to keep writers and readers from getting swindled by this archive scam they're running.

    It doesn't make what they did any less wrong, but their swift resolution of this issue is nice to see. Thanks for bringing this to everyone's attention with your blog post!

    I'm really grateful to all of you for spreading the word these last two days. The only way we can protect writers and readers from scams like this is to share the info.

  32. Anonymous4:51 PM

    To hell with the Scammers!
    In a perfect world a Kynn (Lucas comes to mind) would take care of them for you..alas..
    I tried to unsubscribe too but was not successfull. I am glad I ve downloaded all your stories some time ago.
    oh and I L.O.V.E.D. Dream called time..rereading now :-))


  33. Thanks for the post. I just purchased Final Draft and will be pulling my content from Scribd.com to transfer.

  34. That is sooo wrong. Thanks for letting us know.

  35. panntelis2:31 PM

    today I tried to download a book. Scribd told me that I had to give them my Facebook account details. I acquiesced. When I had done, and tried to download, they presented their economic demands. That is, they make you give them something, with a promise, and having got that, they present their additional terms. This is, purely and simply, a fraud.

  36. I have used Google Docs for the past several years to back up all of my internet writing which spans now about almost 1000 pages. It has been an awesome back up resource with a tremendously user friendly interface. It is highly customizable and very simple to navigate. That would be a great and secure choice for you. The only other suggestions I could give is putting the stories onto an online forum which have no word limits so thats nice also.

    Good luck with finding a new location, you have all of your readers support and help if you need it..

  37. Having freelanced for the last 20 years, I'm always amazed at the new ways publishers screw us "content providers". When I started out, I owned all rights and was paid for my work. Then, it was "work-for-hire", now it's "payment by percentage sold". This new one from Scrib'd is downright shameful--the writer gets bypassed all together.

  38. Wow, what a shame! I was told by one of my FB fans that Scribd wanted to charge $5 for my free file! Thanks for the instructions, I removed my files from the archives!

  39. Well this sucks. The two free reads I wrote for my publisher are on Scribd and my intention was to load any other free reads in future. Now? Not!

  40. Anonymous3:18 AM

    Hi all,

    I am one of the many who tried to pay scrbd.com to be able to download a book. I already deleted my account over a month ago, however, when I saw my bank statement earlier this month they still deducted that amount in my bank account.

    Is anyone having the same problem? Please help.

  41. Thanks for all the information. I have been simultaneously posting books, pamphlets, creative works on both Issuu and Scribd, but now I'll keep a closer eye on Scribd. I prefer the 2 page view on Issuu (unavailable on Scribd). But given the fickleness of so many online companies we have no guarantee huge changes or even take downs won't happen.

  42. Hey there,

    This came to my attention because of a fourteen year old arguing that plagiarism is a perfectly fine practice, so I wanted to bring it to yours as well.

    Scribd's still hosting copies of your works at the following links:

    Just so you know though, it's not just if you offer it for free. There's a lot of copyright infringement on that site, and they refuse to do anything about it. There was one instance when the author was deceased, and they insisted I contact him anyway to file a DMCA. I asked if they expected I should hold a seance and could I use their crystal ball then....

    I'm sure there are probably many, many more. That's just what returned on the first page of only one of your pseudonyms.

    1. Thanks for the heads up, Rogue. I'll send them more takedown notices on these files.

  43. Thanks for this info. I was considering posting a short story of mine on Scribd but can now see that doing so would be an utter waste of time.

    Talk about biting the hand that feeds it. Scribd ought to be boycotted by every serious aspiring writer.


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