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Scribd: Publishers Are Wasting Time, Money, Effort In Creating iPad Apps

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Although magazines like Wired are reporting strong results for their early iPad efforts, for most publishers, this is still an experiment to see if they can recreate — or at least approximate — the revenue model that used to work so well in print’s pre-digital days. With publishers’ budgets and resources fairly limited, online document marketplace Scribd hopes that instead of devoting the time and fees to working with major content design firms, magazines will simply let it create an HTML5 app for them in a matter of minutes. The only price: Scribd wants a share of the ad revenues.

Forbes is the first major mag publisher to use the Scribd platform to create a digital magazine replica. In a conversation with Jared Friedman, CTO and co-founder of Scribd, told paidContent that since the free, online-only Forbes “special issue” on Warren Buffett was released on May 25th, it’s been read on Scribd’s site over 25,000 times. A print version of Vintage Warren: The Best of Forbes on Buffett, a compendium of past articles on the “Oracle of Omaha,” will hit newsstands next month.

Although better known as a free document sharing platform, Scribd has been working for the past year to build up its revenues and capitalize on the growing interest in e-books and now, magazine apps. It’s been about a year since it opened the Scribd Store, which marked a sharp change in its strategy to drive revenues. While the Forbes issue is not technically a magazine app, it certainly can act the way apps like Wired’s does, including allowing interactive content and ads. Because it’s HTML5, the downloaded Scribd digital mag would have enough cached material so that users can still read even if they’re not connected to the internet.

Scribd is currently setting up trials with several other magazine and book publishers, but the company wouldn’t identify who they are. Aside from the low-cost of simply converting content to HTML5, Scribd’s self-service functions also obviate the need for extensive contracts with publishers.

The last part of the pitch Scribd is making to publishers involves the promise of a better user experience. “Publishers are a little lost and don

9 Responses to “Scribd: Publishers Are Wasting Time, Money, Effort In Creating iPad Apps”

  1. trancehood

    I’ve never liked the idea of phone specific apps; correct me if I’m wrong but you can’t just build a single app to run on all types of phones, iPhone, Blackberry etc… It seems like a lot of redundant effort if you want to build something that runs on a variety of devices. Using a browser and HTML5 makes development easier and works across a wider range of devices.

  2. Scribd sucks. I hate reading content on it. Its like scrolling through a bunch of jpg images, not interactive at all like the iPad specific apps.

  3. Bruce Upbin comment: “You ought not take our work with Scribd to be an endorsement of a single platform approach.”

    paidContent will use whatever material it finds that can be purposed to discredit Apple Inc. paidContent works for Microsoft.

  4. pcunite

    As the owner of an iPad as well as several PCs, blackberries and the like, I don’t mind to pay for content but not if I can’t read it on whatever device I want. That is not the spirit of the Internet. Make a better website, not some silly app.

  5. David,
    Nice piece. And as the editor behind the Buffett anthology it was great
    to learn how the new Scribd platform could expose our content to new
    audiences. I have to emphasize, though, that Forbes is entirely platform agnostic and we’re also pursuing iPad apps with great enthusiasm. You ought not take our work with Scribd to be an endorsement of a single platform approach.

  6. You also do not need Scribd. javari withdrew 19 Apps from the iTunes App Store in protest against Hype-Pad to go INDIE FREE UNIVERSAL also gorgeous on iPad iPhone iPod touch. Why give Apple or Scribd the benefit of your hits and searches on Google?
    THE APP on javari
    11 Books+26 Films+360 Photos
    28,810+ downloads in 90 countries
    New York NY

  7. contentnext

    There’s a TON of room for optimization in what Wired did. What we saw on the first version was obviously the quick and dirty version with basically no optimization at all. Also, “A manner of minutes?” I imagine that whatever they produce in a timeframe like that is going to be pretty terrible.

    This sounds like those ads you see in the back of tech mags where an atractive stock photo person exclaims that, “Building your own website will only take a few minutes!”