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How to read 50 books in a year and improve your vocabulary and foreign language knowledge? With Scribd, it’s a piece of cake!

Scribd - audiobooks and e-books

Reading is one of the most common activities we have been doing since early childhood. We start with picture books and gradually increase the length and complexity of the texts. It allows us to live in other worlds, become superheroes, experience various adventures, and learn something new. It is a pleasant activity during which we can take a break and relax. And not only that! Reading is also great for learning a language because it helps enrich our vocabulary. And for that, it is an inexhaustible resource.

If you are very busy and have trouble finding a moment to sit down to read a book and immerse yourself in reading with a cup of good coffee or tea, don’t worry. Instead of reading, you can listen to audiobooks.

It’s easier than you would think, because you can listen to audiobooks (almost) anywhere and anytime, whether you’re commuting to school or work, cleaning, cooking, doing the dishes, walking, etc. You’d be surprised at how much “down time” there is during the day. Suddenly, you will listen to books that you have been putting off for a long time due to a lack of free time, and in a week, you will have listened to hours and hours of audiobooks and you won’t even know how. And what’s best, your understanding of the foreign language and your pronunciation will greatly improve.

Whether you choose reading, listening, or a combination of these activities (which we recommend), Scribd will be of great help to you.

What exactly is Scribd?

Scribd logo

Scribd is the largest digital library in the world. It contains tens of millions of documents – e-books, audiobooks, magazines, and more. It is based on a monthly subscription and you can use it on a computer, smartphone, or tablet (Android and iOS), as well as on some e-readers (e.g. Kindle, Nook). It currently has 80 million users, and thanks to its popularity it’s often referred to as “Netflix for Books.” I came across this great website at a time when I was using Audible (audiobooks from Amazon) and looking for an alternative. So what are the advantages of Scribd over Audible?

SCRIBDAUDIBLE
$ 8.99 / monthstarts at $ 14.95 / month
unrestricted access to all documents1 credit you can use to buy 1 audiobook + 30% discount on other books
audiobooks, e-books, magazines and other documentsonly audiobooks

* The only disadvantage of Scribd compared to Audible is its smaller selection of audiobooks. You can try both services for free for 30 days and find out which one suits you best.

What has Scribd got to offer?

Scribd offers a very diverse selection of books, including brand new books, world bestsellers, ageless classics, and popular travel guides from Lonely Planet. Of course, there are also books on language-learning ​​(e.g. Make It Stick or Fluent in 3 Months) and learning in general. Most are available in both forms – as e-books or audiobooks, so you can choose what suits you best. This website is also beneficial for non-English speakers because it contains books in different languages, not just English. Whether you are learning German, Spanish, French, Russian, or another language, be sure to try it out! For example, you can find various grammar exercise books among the documents. If you’re interested in one of the books that we recommend in our video courses, but you haven’t found it in a bookstore or it was too expensive, try looking it up at Scribd. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by it many times.

Besides books and audiobooks, you can also read issues of various foreign magazines on the website, including TIME, New York Magazine, Fast Company, and Inc. There is also something for fans of technology, motorsports, fishing, gardening, cooking, home design, and others.

Scribd offers a variety of magazines too

All users have access to four other services included in the monthly fee: Blinkist, Pocket, MUBI and FarFaria. You can access them by clicking on the arrow next to your profile photo – just select Member Exclusives from the menu.

  • Blinkist – 15-minute book summaries (in both text and audio format).
  • Pocket – you can use this service for storing websites and online articles so you can read them later and offline.
  • MUBI – “online cinema” for watching movies.
  • FarFaria – e-books and audiobooks for children from 2 to 9 years.
Blinkist, Pocket, MUBI, FarFaria - four other services included in the monthly fee

How does it work?

We have already mentioned that you can use Scribd on a computer, smartphone, or tablet (you need to download their app), as well as on some e-readers.

Registration is free, but you must enter your credit card number. You have a one-month free trial, and if you don’t like the website, you can cancel/delete your account without paying anything. At the end of the trial period, a monthly fee will automatically be deducted from your account each month.

The user interface is simple and intuitive and we believe that everyone will be able to work it out:

Scribd has a very simple user interface

1. Search box – Type a book title, an author’s name, or a keyword in here.

2. Menu:

  • Home – homepage.
  • Saved – books you have saved. You can also create your own lists (e.g. sorted by language, genre, or topic). If you read a lot, it will make your search quicker. When you save a book, Scribd will recommend you similar ones that you might also like. You can also set whether you want to see books you’ve already read in the filter.
  • Bestsellers (in the app, they’re called Top Charts) – the most popular books and audiobooks. If you don’t know which book to start with, get inspired by this list. You can choose from the most popular overall, or search by genre.
  • Books – here, you’ll find the books you have saved and recommendations for similar ones (Overview), topics/genres by which you can search for books (Categories) and books recommended by editors (Editors’ Pick – this list is updated weekly).
  • Audiobooks – the same functions as in the Books category.
  • Snapshots – summaries of bestsellers of various genres in 7-15 minutes. You can choose whether you want to listen to them or read them. (And it’s quite possible that they will grab your attention so much that you’ll want to read the whole book afterwards.) They are currently available for more than 500 books and the number is constantly growing.
  • Magazines – magazines are available only in English, for other languages ​​we recommend using Calibre (this service is explained in detail in the Language Master video course).
  • Documents – here, you will find diverse documents like, for example, various books and textbooks, dissertations and medical reports. If you haven’t found a book in an e-book format, there is still a chance you’ll find it here. Besides, you can download all documents as PDF files to your computer.
  • Sheet Music – sheet music for all music genres, instruments and difficulty levels.

3. Today’s Top Pick – the website will recommend one book each day.

4. Titles You’ve Saved – your saved books.

5. Read for Free – invite your friends to the website and get 1 month free for Scribd for everyone who joins. At the same time, your friends will receive up to two months free trial.

6. Upload – you can also upload any document to the site, regardless of whether it is your first poem or a short story, a paper for school, or a presentation for work.

7. Language Selection – here, you can choose the language of the website, not the language of the books. (But changing the language will also change the recommendations for the books the page gives to you, so if you’re looking for books in a language other than English, we recommend that you change the language of the website as well.)

Book reading

Once we know what the page looks like and how to use it, we can start reading. You have several additional functions available here as well.

Reading a book in a browser
Reading in the app offers you even more possibilities

1. View book contents.

2. Search – shows you all occurrences of the searched word in the book. (You can also use this feature to learn words in different contexts. See what phrases the word is used in and write down specific examples in your Goldlist or Anki) Moreover, you don’t even have to enter the word you’re looking for in the app. Just highlight it, tap on “More options” (the three dots) and select “Search this book”.

3. Fullscreen reading mode.

4. Display settings – here, you can change:

  • The color of the background so that it is easy on your eyes. The mobile app even offers two  night modes, and you can also adjust the brightness.
  • Font size and type (you can also change the line spacing in the app).
  • Text alignment.
  • Page rotation – whether you want to move to the next page from left to right or from top to bottom.

5. Other options:

  • Create a bookmark – Are you afraid you’ll forget where you left off?  Create a bookmark!
  • Remove from Saved – remove the book from your saved list.
  • Notes and Bookmarks – select this option to see all the notes and bookmarks you’ve created in the book.
  • About the book – overview of the book: rating, number of pages, reading time, available formats (e-book, audiobook, snapshot), summary, etc.
  • Share this title – You can share this book on social media.

6. Highlighting / Adding a note / Sharing a quote – you can highlight any word, phrase, sentence, or part of the text, add a note to it or share it with a nice design (you have several options to choose from) as a quote via social media.

7. Note – when you add a note to a part of the text, a small icon will appear to the right of it. Click on it to expand your note.

The apps offers built-in dictionary
The dictionary always at hand

Dictionary – In addition, a dictionary is available in the app (English only). Just mark any word and its pronunciation and a definition will appear in a gray rectangle at the bottom of the screen. (Installing the dictionary is easy – the first time you select a word, the app will ask if you want to download the dictionary.)

The dictionary is not available when you’re reading in a browser. But we have a great alternative for you – install the free Readlang plugin and you will have a dictionary not only for English but for many other languages, too. And not only for reading books on Scribd, but for any text anywhere on the Internet.

Listening to audiobooks

Listening to audiobooks is even easier. Since there is no text, we need fewer functions. Listening on your computer looks like this:

Listening to an audiobook on your computer

1. View book contents.

2. Other options – the same as for reading books (except for the ability to create a note).

3. Adjusting the playback speed – Do you have trouble understanding the audio and you need to focus on it more? Or is the speaker reading the book too slowly? Slow down or speed up the recording to your liking.

4. Adjust the playback volume.

5. Sleep mode – are you traveling and know that in 20 minutes you will be getting off and so you will not be able to concentrate on the book? Set when the playback should turn itself off (from 5 minutes to 2 hours).

When listening via the app, the options are a little different. First, we recommend that you download the audiobook to your device so that you can listen to it without an internet connection. You can also set the time by which the recording should rewind (if, for example, you didn’t hear something properly and want to hear it again) or fast forward (5-30 seconds). You can also create a bookmark directly on the main screen by clicking on “+ Bookmark”. The rest is the same as when you are listening on a computer.

Your books are always with you, even offline – thanks to the app

The website and the app are fully synchronized, so when you leave home and want to continue reading on your mobile, the book will open exactly at the page where you left off on your computer. The same goes for the recordings.

“Read as if you owned all the books in the world.”

If you’ve read this far, I believe that Scribd caught your attention and you will give it a chance. Try the first month for free and explore all its nooks and crannies. You have nothing to lose. And if you register via this link, you’ll have up to two months free and we’ll also be thankful for the free month you’re giving us by doing this.

And if you don’t know what you should read or listen to at first, here are a few tips for the favorite books of the Language Mentoring team. You may be inspired by:

  • Anya von Bremzen – Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking: A Memoir of Food and Longing
  • Daniel Keyes – Flowers for Algernon
  • Fyodor Dostoevsky – The Karamazov Brothers
  • Giles Milton – When Hitler Took Cocaine and Lenin Lost His Brain: Historys Unknown Chapters
  • Guillaume Musso – Brooklyn Girl
  • Jane Austen – Northanger Abbey
  • Lee Child – Jack Reacher (book series)
  • L. M. Montgomery – Anne of Green Gables
  • Marie Kondo – Magic Cleaning
  • Mark A. McDaniel and Peter C. Brown – Make It Stick
  • Rachel Joyce – The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
  • Randy Pausch – The Last Lecture
  • Stieg Larsson – Millennium (trilogy)
  • Volker Kutscher – Gereon Rath Series

Source: scribd.com, dreamstime.com

Language Mentoring is celebrating its 5th birthday in a big way! Get our video courses with a 60% discount and learn the language of your dreams once and for all – in a fun and effective way!

Are you starting from scratch? Or have you learned your language before, but never achieved true fluency? Go to THIS PAGE and find out which of our courses is the right pick for you. Once you’ve decided, just use our special discount code – BIRTHDAY – and get your 60% discount!

The author of this blog post is Barbara Pecková, a professional translator and member of the Language Mentoring team since 2017. 

Language Mentoring provides a complete guide for learning any language using simple and often free resources on the internet and in bookshops. It was founded by polyglot, language mentor and author of this website, Lýdia Machová, in 2016. She's learned 7 languages by herself and she adds another one every other year. Her philosophy is that everybody can learn a language regardless talent, age or other qualities – if they know how to do it.

 

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