E-books: Unlimited Access

Read until your heart is content! Oyster, a New York-based startup is attempting to do for e-books what Netflix has done for movies and what Spotify has done for music, by creating a new single price subscription service that provides unlimited access to e-books. For just $10 per month consumers will have easier and unlimited access to content, from publishers like HarperCollins to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, with the expectation that many more publishers and authors will make their e-books available in the future. With the launch of its new iPhone and iPod app, by invitation only and on a first-come, first-served basis, iPhone subscribers will have access to more than 100,000 e-books. Similar to Netflix, in that content is organized by genre, ranges from classics to modern titles, and includes well-known authors. Unfortunately, it lacks in best sellers and the availability of new releases comes at a snail’s pace. This has the potential to change as the user base grows, thus acquiring more leverage with publishers.  Like similar apps, it aims to help users discover new content, follow other user’s reading activities and of course, there is the option to share e-books to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The decision by Oyster’s founders to focus on the iPhone and iPod experience first, rather than the tablet was motivated by the assumption that more people carry smartphones and iPods than tablets. Naturally there had to be considerations about the design of the e-reader because these are smaller devices, therefore, the user scrolls through content up and down rather than from right to left, as well as making the font type and size adjustable.

Whether or not this app will serve as the impetus for increased book consumption, only time will tell.


Techcentral.ie. (9/09/2013). “Oyster promises all-you-can-read e-books: Publishers wary of subscription model.”  Web.  <http://www.techcentral.ie/22597/oyster-promises-all-you-can-read-e-books#ixzz2eumNDIX3>.

Seth Fiegerman (9/5/2013). “Oyster Releases the First True Netflix-for-E-books App.”  Web. <Mashable.com/2013/09/05/oyster-launch>.


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