Free document-sharing platform Scribd is calling on publishers to skip the iPad apps and use its service to convert publications into an HTML5 format readable on a variety of mobile platforms. David Kaplan reports that the company is in talks with several magazine and book publishers, and last month launched a special edition with Forbes on Warren Buffett. According to Kaplan, the conversion process from a variety of document formats is free, with Scribd taking a portion of ad revenues from each edition.
Jared Friedman, CTO and co-founder of Scribd, told Kaplan that publishers can save money and provide a better user experience by using Scribd as a distribution platform:
In a press release last month, Scribd announced the migration of its “tens of millions” of stored documents into the HTML5 format to allow greater portability between computing platforms. Most of those documents are uploaded for sharing by individuals and businesses. Along with Forbes, the company also noted available publications from Liquid Comics, Workman Publishing and Publishers Weekly.
The Forbes partnership is the first with a major magazine publisher, and the early results of the conversion process leave a bit to be desired. The desktop Web version of the Buffett issue is similar to reading an embedded PDF; though it’s not packed with interactive features, it’s usable. The publication is available for easy delivery to a variety of mobile devices and platforms, including iPad, iPhone, Kindle, Nook, Android, Palm, Windows and Nokia.
Scribd appears to be going through a few growing pains as it rolls out this new service. Several bugs in the Web interface were readily apparent as I attempted to download Forbes’ Buffett issue to my iPad.
Of more concern, reading the Web version of the Buffett article on an iPad was extremely difficult due to typography and formatting errors. I don’t know if this is the fault of the iPad browser, but in terms of reader experience, there is still some work to be done.