Scribd your society’s bottom line

Are costs driving your society’s publishing efforts? Would you like to move to color, but you just can’t afford it? Does postage eat up most of your publishing budget?

What would you say if I told you that you could produce and distribute a high-quality newslettter or journal – including full color photos and graphics – on a dime? Would you be interested?

You can! And, not only can you do that, but you can also generate revenue by offering your publications for sale with a world-wide reach.

The boom in electronic publishing continues to grow with all kinds of devices making it possible to read whenever and wherever you want. If you create and distribute your society publications as electronic documents, you can add color, hyperlinks and even video.

What’s the catch? Yes, there is one. You will need to change how you create your publications and we all know that old habits are hard to break. There will be staff and members who want to continue the old ways. There might even still be a few members who don’t own a computer or have access to email, but those numbers continue to fall. If members demand a print version of the publication, give it to them – at a price.

Scribd Profile Page
Scribd Profile Page

The Scribd publishing platform offers an online library for any of your society publications. You can upload your documents to either public or private areas under your organization’s name and logo. This allows you to distribute newsletters and journals as electronic documents via your Scribd site, saving both printing and mailing costs. Scribd even offers a storefront where you can sell back issues and other publications to a world-wide audience.

Scribd costs nothing to publish. You can post documents created in Word, Excel, PowerPoint and PDF formats. Original documents can be scanned to PDF format and uploaded. All uploaded files are converted to Scribd’s HTML5 format which supports any number of presentation options – including the free Scribd apps for just about every tablet and smart phone there is.

Scribd on the iPad
Reading a Scribd publication on the iPad

Not only does this give your organization a facility to share your publications with members, it also provides a safe data archive should anything happen to the originals.

What can you sell via Scribd? In addition to your recurring publications, you can make any number of other documents available. Things like cemetery indexes, biographical sketches or regimental histories are good for starters, along with research guides and other how-to publications. The past issues of your quarterly journals are a gold mine to people researching in your society’s area. Those recent issues still residing on your computers can be uploaded and available in your Scribd store within minutes. Older issues only available in print format will need to be scanned before they can be included.

Selling publications through Scribd is amazingly easy. You upload the publication to the Scribd Store, set a price and let everyone know where to find it. Scribd handles all the purchase and payment tasks and provides the customer service. It costs you nothing upfront, but Scribd will deduct a 20% commission off each sale, then send you your earnings every month. As part of each upload you can use Scribd’s preview function to identify specific pages as part of the document’s preview. Setting the preview to include the publication’s table of contents makes it easy for prospective readers to see if this issue has articles associated with their research interests.

Scribd collection
Scribd Collection

Scribd users can take advantage of the collections feature to organize documents within a specific library. You can also include documents from other libraries within your collections. By encouraging members to publish their content at Scribd and using the collections feature to spotlight their effort on the society’s profile page, you not only give them additional visibility for their work but your society’s library becomes a hub for local information.

Recently, Scribd introduced a premium reader program. Readers can subscribe to the program for a day, a month or a year and gain access to publications made available within the program. Think of it as similar to Netflix, only for publications. Including publications in the program generates revenue too – a commission for each premium reader who reads or downloads one of your premium documents.

In addition to maintaining your society page at Scribd, you can also embed documents on your society’s web site – like the one you see below. Post the latest newsletter or quarterly journal to announce its availability. Create a spotlight page to identify the latest additions to the collection. Spotlight a member’s latest publishing effort. These are simple, but effective marketing techniques that will generate member traffic to your Scribd store. And, because documents posted at Scribd are very search-friendly, it’s quite likely your collection will attract distant researchers too.

Scribd is one of a number of affordable publishing resources now available for both individuals and societies. It’s working hard to become the one you choose first.

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