Videos go to Youtube, photos go to Flickr, music goes to iTunes, and documents go to… Scribd. Originally, documents were not the main point of focus for ambitious Web developers, as it doesn’t have the same appeal as video or music, and they tend to be shared privately via email. Viewing documents online is also pejoratively associated to viewing a pdf document: slow and not intuitive.
Scribd stepped up in the game with the vision that the written word has the same value as other types of media, but its multiple formats make it unlikely to be widely shared online. Therefore, the company’s first move was the development of the iPaper, a document reader very similar to a Youtube video player: It plays any kind of uploaded documents in Flash, it contains an embed code to post the document anywhere, sharing features to spread the word on a variety of social networks, a search box to explore the millions of documents on Scribd, and even a download link to save documents straight on your hard drive for offline use.
Scribd is a community of 60 million monthly readers. Its document-sharing technology attracted a lot of high profile users: Obama, Ford, Accenture, Random House… The iPaper also became the reliable way for the New york Times, Techcrunch, Hacker News, and many more to share documents on their Website.
Third-party developers are also invited to play around with the Scribd’s API and develop original ways to upload and share documents with the rest of the world. So far, you will find softwares that will scan your disk and upload all the documents found to your Scribd account. There is also a Greasemonkey script that spots links to Scribd documents on a Web page and automatically embeds the doc below those links. All those tools are available here.
Trip Adler, Founder and CEO of Scribd, whom I had previously interviewed about a year ago, also shared a few info on the company’s upcoming news: Scribd is working on a search engine that will be better adapted to the needs of the social publishing platform, and on a new form of revenue model for publishers.