Scribd is moving into the original content business with the release of “Mueller’s War,” a book by journalist Garrett Graff looking at the prosecutor’s time as a marine in the Vietnam War.
CEO Trip Adler revealed earlier this year that the subscription e-book and audiobook service would be moving in this direction. Today, Scribd is actually releasing its first title and revealing more details about its plans.
Adler told me the initial lineup of Scribd Originals mixes fiction and nonfiction, with a focus on “the space between a magazine article and a book” — namely, pieces up to 50,000 words in length that are too long to run in a magazine but aren’t long enough to be published as a standalone book.
The hope is for Scribd to build a closer relationship with authors while offering something that’s “unique for our readers,” Adler said.
“We pay an advance similar for a traditional book,” he added. “There’s a period of exclusivity, [but] in some cases we will also be distributing books over time to other digital platforms … We’re still staying open-minded about those kinds of things.”
The plan is to release one original title (in both e-book and audiobook form) each month, and to that end, the company has brought on former Byliner editor-in-chief Mark Bryant as an editor. Upcoming originals include work from authors Roxane Gay, Mark Seal, Hilton Als, Peter Heller and Paul Theroux.
And while Amazon’s moves into publishing have been a source of tension between the e-commerce giant and traditional publishers, Adler said Scribd has already run its plans by some of its publishing partners: “We really expect them to embrace this. This is just a great way for their authors to keep in touch with their audience between books.”
He even suggested that in some cases, a successful Scribd Original could be turned into a full-length book that’s released by a traditional publisher.