I have used Scribd.com since 2007 or 2008 if I recall correctly. Scribd has long provided me with access to texts--mostly academic and scholarly press books--that were neither at my library or within my budget. Scribd was a saving grace for me during my doctoral course work as well as through the initial parts of preparing for my exams. One of Scribd's best uses, though, was it's search. While it's search tool at the top is weak--really, we can't sort out publishers?--the way it presents related titles and materials is as friendly, if not more friendly, than shelf browsing.
Around 2011 or so, my love for Scribd declined. Probably had a lot to do with my shifting focus. Scribd, though, has become much more commercial, and there are many, many more money making methods to Scribd. What annoyed me was how, at one point, my ability to read and download docs was limited: I had to either pay a monthly fee or upload material. So I uploaded some useless docs, downloaded what I needed, and left. I do not like feeling compelled to pay for what is presented as a free service. From what I can tell, that policy seems to have changed.
Either way, there is a lot more of BUY on Scribd. Buy books. Buy articles. And now there is unlimited reading.
I don't really need to rent or buy books for my pleasure reading. That's covered. Okay, I would probably read more steam punk and Neal Stephenson with a subscription, but most the stuff that I want is from Safari, Blackwell, and IGI. You know, those $150 books nobody can buy--I want to read articles there. From what I can tell, only a few of these presses have material available. So, bleh.
Hot presses, like O'Reilly, seem to only sell their books and offer a few freebies. Obviously, they don't want to compete with their own online library. Why sell for $9 a month on Scribd when they can get a couple hundred/year on through Safari?
So, here I sit, wondering whether the new toy is worth it. Of course Scribd offers a 30 day free trial, but that means at least 4-5 months before I remember to shut it off if I am not using it.
Are you an academic? Are you using Scribd? If so, how and why? Or why not?