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Paperback Writer

Writing Pro Since 1998

Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Scribd.com Gets Greedy
It's been brought to my attention that Scribd.com has begun charging people to d
ownload 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 pa
y me any royalties on the profits they make.) Evidently all the money they've be
en raking in from the Google ads they've posted on my e-book pages hasn't been e
nough for them.
I was not made aware of this new policy by Scribd at all; a reader kindly brough
t 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 provi
ded at their leisure. Basically they washed their hands of any liability and eth
ics 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 instructi
ons here.) As I discovered this morning this is going to take a considerable amo
unt of time for me to accomplish, and it's not a permanent solution; they tell m
e I'll have to check the documents regularly to see to it that they aren't arbit
rarily returned to the archive, where Scribd can then again start charging peopl
e to download them.
I find the situation particularly ironic, as anyone can bootleg my work on the i
nternet 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,
delete the entire library this morning and say the hell with
een giving away these books for ten years, and I'm not going
of others hoping to make a surreptitious buck off my name to

and I'm tempted to

it. However, I've b
to allow the greed
defeat me.

I may still have to take down my library of free reads. For now I will be resear
ching other options, removing my free e-books one by one from Scribd's archive s
cam, and see if I can find a solution that doesn't cost my readers anything or m
ake my head explode.
In the meantime, please do NOT pay Scribd.com to access or download my free e-bo
oks. If you are asked to pay ANYTHING for any of the thirty e-books I have on Sc
ribd, and you can't wait until I find a solution, contact me at LynnViehl@aol.co
m 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 s
ure it works. Unfortunately I have to finish some revisions to meet a deadline f
irst. Please be advised that I will be removing my library of free e-books and d
ocuments from Scribd.com as soon as I get everything transferred over to the alt
ernative 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 att
empts their web site was unresponsive, so I've contacted them and told them to t

ake it down. Hopefully they will do so quickly; in the meantime please use the G
oogle Doc links listed on the Freebies page here and please do NOT pay Scribd.co
m anything to access my free e-books.
Posted by Lynn Viehl at 7:01 AM
Labels: e-books, freebies, my head explodes, Scribd
Melissa8:07 AM
I'm not sure how Google Books works, but you may want to check that out. I'v
e 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.
Charlene Teglia8:33 AM
Scribd is evil. Good luck getting your stuff moved. You can always host them
on your own site and provide links to download.
Lara8:37 AM
....aaaaaaand deleted my account. I really can't stand scammers.
Thanks for the heads-up.
Heather Wardell8:38 AM
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 other
s, which is nice for getting additional readers. (One of mine is free... the res
t are $0.99.)
My free one is also at Scribd, so thanks very much for the heads-up. Off to
check it out now!
Heather Wardell8:41 AM
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 the
n hit with the archive fee.
Not impressed.
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 sudde
n announcement of no more mass market books. Effective Sept 1 only e-books (At f
ull price) with trade size later. Writers have it tough enough without reducing
their market.
ScrappyPam10:44 AM
I have a possible solution for you. If you want to contact me at pam AT scra
ppypam DOT com I'll be glad to tell you more about it. (No, not a scam - you use
d to know me as Jinx from FM.)
Bill Peschel10:46 AM

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 P
DF 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 con
cerned with allowing everyone access anywhere near my google account), but if yo
u shoot me an email, I'll send you the link and you can try it yourself.
Carissa Thorp11:06 AM
I discovered this today myself. I immediately thought "I wonder what PBW thi
nks about this?" :-)
With your blogger/google account you have access to google docs and can shar
e pdfs there.
Another alternative (and my favourite) is Posterous which does a *really* ni
ce job of presenting the pdfs, allows fullscreen viewing online and a download l
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.
Carissa Thorp11:10 AM
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.
Vom Marlowe11:53 AM
UGH. I HATE scammers. I'm so sorry that happened to you! I set up a little w
ebsite 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 eith
er PDFs or Word Documents. I remember the traffic limit being pretty generous, a
nd it was easy (I am not good with complex HTML). That might be an option for yo
u. It's just sites dot google dot com and I used the file/archive type page.
Mark Barrett2:13 PM
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:
Shiloh Walker2:35 PM
oh nasty...I had two free previews there and was thinking about loading a pr

oject 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 yo
u 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 t
here-unlike some sites that just don't care.
Formatting is hassle, though.
Book Addicts2:41 PM
The Book Addicts are spreading the word about Scribds greed.
This is really lame of them to do so.
Margaret3:27 PM
I don't find them wanting to make money
le, but not notifying you, and making money
lties is out and out theft. Crazy that they
Thanks for the heads up and good luck with
Catana/Sylvie Mac3:33 PM

out of their service that unreasonab

off your content without paying roya
thought they could get away with it.
your deadline.

I was actually thinking of using Scribd as another way to distribute my writ

ing. 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, a
nd that includes having a cover for your book.
nightsmusic4:53 PM
Mediafire? I have a lot of things posted there. There's no charge, the bandw
idth limit is such that hundreds of people would need to be downloading at a tim
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 p
rompts. If your solution doesn't work, let me know.
And gosh, I missed you!
Jamie D.5:19 PM
Thanks for posting this. I just started using Scribd this year - Now I'll ta
ke 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...
PamelaTurner5:22 PM
Think I'll stay away from uploading anything to Scribd. Maybe I'll try Smash
words instead.

raine12:28 AM
lxz5:20 AM
Another vote for Smashwords.
And soooo glad you're back.
Tura Lura6:10 AM
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 m
y blog with the links... That will probably be the easiest thing to do. *Then* I
can look into other methods of distribution. ^_^
Shiloh Walker7:31 AM
Somebody suggested mediafireThis 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.
Maripat7:49 AM
The bad behavior of some folks just leaves me dumbfounded. This is the last
thing you needed.
Good luck with the deadline.
Mike Cane7:52 AM
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 TO
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 normall
y would have because of their online free library.

Well, just a suggestion. I'm reading the Kyndred series solely because of th
e free companion piece you put on Scribd (when it was still free, I guess) and I
'm rooting for you!
Lynn Viehl8:40 AM
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 bef
ore 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 TO
You're right, I did. But you don't have to type in all caps, I can read lowe
r case letters fine.
Thanks again for visiting and have a lovely day.
B.E. Sanderson9:24 AM
Sorry to read that happened to you, Lynn. I hope the solution you found work
s for you. Hang in there.
And if this makes any difference in your day, I finished reading Dream Calle
d Time and loved it. You gave me the perfect end to Cherijo's story. Thank you.
Bunnie's Mom1:18 PM
It's nice to hear your voice again, despite the issue. Hope this is worked o
ut 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 t
hink it's genius. And I loved your response to that little ray of sunshine that
stopped in...
writergirl8:05 PM
Can't wait to read them!!
Evil Wylie8:32 PM
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!
Lynn Viehl10:18 PM
Evil Wylie wrote: I have some good news! I spoke with Scribd and they have n
ow 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, an
d will shortly be deleting my library there, it's good to know there is now a wa
y to keep writers and readers from getting swindled by this archive scam they're
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 sha
re the info.
Anonymous4:51 PM
To hell with the Scammers!
In a perfect world a Kynn (Lucas comes to mind) would take care of them for
I tried to unsubscribe too but was not successfull. I am glad I ve downloade
d all your stories some time ago.
oh and I L.O.V.E.D. Dream called time..rereading now :-))
K.M.D.7:49 PM
Thanks for the post. I just purchased Final Draft and will be pulling my con
tent from Scribd.com to transfer.
Writer Lady3:25 PM
That is sooo wrong. Thanks for letting us know.
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 somethin
g, with a promise, and having got that, they present their additional terms. Thi
s is, purely and simply, a fraud.
William7:25 AM
I have used Google Docs for the past several years to back up all of my inte
rnet writing which spans now about almost 1000 pages. It has been an awesome bac
k up resource with a tremendously user friendly interface. It is highly customiz
able and very simple to navigate. That would be a great and secure choice for yo
u. 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..

Joanne Miller8:03 PM
Having freelanced for the last 20 years, I'm always amazed at the new ways p
ublishers screw us "content providers". When I started out, I owned all rights a
nd was paid for my work. Then, it was "work-for-hire", now it's "payment by perc
entage sold". This new one from Scrib'd is downright shameful--the writer gets b
ypassed all together.
Sweetly Sweet10:17 AM
Wow, what a shame! I was told by one of my FB fans that Scribd wanted to cha
rge $5 for my free file! Thanks for the instructions, I removed my files from th
e archives!
vanessa jaye10:40 AM
Well this sucks. The two free reads I wrote for my publisher are on Scribd a
nd my intention was to load any other free reads in future. Now? Not!
Anonymous3:18 AM
Hi all,
I am one of the many who tried to pay scrbd.com to be able to download a boo
k. I already deleted my account over a month ago, however, when I saw my bank st
atement earlier this month they still deducted that amount in my bank account.
Is anyone having the same problem? Please help.
larry goodell1:02 PM
Thanks for all the information. I have been simultaneously posting books, pa
mphlets, 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.
RogueMudblood8:54 PM
Hey there,
This came to my attention because of a fourteen year old arguing that plagia
rism 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 l
ot 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 con
tact 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 th
e first page of only one of your pseudonyms.
Lynn Viehl9:02 PM
Thanks for the heads up, Rogue. I'll send them more takedown notices on
these files.
The Content Bloke5:07 PM
Thanks for this info. I was considering posting a short story of mine on Scr
ibd 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 ev
ery serious aspiring writer.
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