Scribd Unveils New Social Features

Adrian Versteegh

In a bid to position itself alongside social networking phenomena like Facebook and Twitter, online publishing service Scribd unveiled a host of new social features yesterday. Users can now create personal reading lists, connect with those who share similar interests, and subscribe to instant updates from favorite authors, publishers, and even other readers. The company’s Web site says the overhaul is part of a strategy “to create the world’s largest reading club.”

“The next major evolution of the ‘print’ medium will be social, with readers participating in the never-ending life of the document, the book, the presentation,” Trip Adler, Scribd’s cofounder and CEO, told Publishers Weekly. Yesterday’s update included a new rating system and the launch of the “Scribble box,” which allows users to share their musings in the manner of other social networking services.

Tammy Nam, Scribd’s vice president of content, says the site has found favor with writers as well as readers. “The written word is no longer static,” she told the Los Angeles Times. “People want others to participate in the process of creating their works. We have authors who tell us that readers give them feedback about grammar or plotlines. So their works constantly change.”

Traffic at Scribd has reportedly dipped over the summer, but the San Francisco-based startup says about forty million people each month still use its site to access documents and e-books. An iPhone application supporting the service is expected to debut soon.