I thought I had figured out every conceivable way to squeeze money out of authors...until I saw this post yesterday from Paperback Writer:
[As of July 27th] Scribd.com has begun charging people to download my free e-books hosted on their site. They are using an archive subscription scam to make their money (this also neatly avoids them having to pay me any royalties on the profits they make.)
Evidently all the money they've been raking in from the Google ads they've posted on my e-book pages hasn't been enough for them.... I was not made aware of this new policy by Scribd at all; a reader kindly brought it to my attention. If you have free stories or documents hosted on this site, chances are they're doing the same to you.
Yikes! And you thought that Evil Wylie was evil! Charging readers to access free e-books and other documents WITHOUT NOTIFYING THE AUTHORS?! I wish I had thought of this scam legitimate business venture first.
Their "archive" scheme process works like this: after an unspecified "period of time," all free, publicly-viewable documents posted to Scribd.com are retired to an archive. To download those documents, readers who visit Scribd.com must cough up either $5 for a 24-hour downloading period or $9 for a monthly subscription. Simply viewing archived documents does not require payment.
Scribd.com offers an option to return the document to the free "current" section AFTER it has been archived. In an absolutely brilliant move, however, their terms of service don't actually state when documents will be archived...so authors have no easy way to determine when their work will be archived (and thus available for un-archiving).
According to Scribd.com, "The Scribd Archive is.... an acknowledgement of the importance of the combined scholarship and imagination of so many people [i.e. the authors who have used our service]." Thank you for acknowledging the importance of the writers who created the work that you are now pimping like street meat distributing.