September 6, 2017

Scribd, the San Francisco-based startup that wants to be the Netflix for text, has a new plan to lure more subscribers: Give them The New York Times.

This morning, Scribd announced a new two-for-one deal for students. Those with valid .edu addresses can pay $1.87 per week and get access to Scribd's library of written content and a digital subscription to The New York Times.

The new bundling strategy is part of Scribd's plan to goose its subscriber base, which now north of 500,000, said Trip Adler, the CEO of Scribd.

The company is betting that "subscription fatigue" — the state of having too many monthly subscriptions to keep track of — will propel users to pick one service that gives them access to everything they want to read.

"So we had the idea that we wanted to start offering subscriptions together as a package," Adler said. "That way you can just pay one subscription fee and get multiple services."

Although Adler declined to make the terms of the deal public, he said that Scribd and The New York Times will share revenue for each subscriber who signs up. Before today's deal, Scribd subscribers could already access a subset of New York Times content through an existing partnership the app has with the newspaper.

The new deal provides full access, but a company spokesperson declined to say how many more articles the subscription provides. Currently, "between 500 and a million" users have ponied up the $9 per month fee to become a Scribd subscriber, Adler said.

The company, which operates out of crowded office space in San Francisco, has 115 full-time employees, has forged partnerships with news organizations including The Wall Street Journal, Time, Fortune and Bloomberg.

Under the terms of the deal, Scribd subscribers still need to make an account with The New York Times and log into the company's various apps, Adler said. The $7.50 per month student deal is a 40 percent price cut to the total cost of subscribing to both The New York Times and Scribd. "The idea is, there may not be people who want to buy both subscriptions separately but they would as a package," Adler said.

Correction: A previous version of this story said that Scribd inked a deal with The Washington Post. It has not.

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Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism…
Benjamin Mullin

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