Oyster Attempts to Bring Netflix-style Convenience to Books
If Oyster, a new start-up based in the United States has its way, users won’t have to worry about the cost of individual books. Instead, they’d simply sign up for an unlimited subscription service.
Oyster — which launched this week — allows users to sign up for just $9.95 and choose from a selection of around 100,000 books. According to a blog post by the company, users are then able to read those books “anywhere,” though its website only highlights an application for iPhone users now.
Users wouldn’t have to check-in books as they do with services like OverDrive either. Instead, a subscription to Oyster’s service allows users to download books immediately and whenever they want – provided the company offers the book on the service.
Oyster isn’t just trying to revolutionize the way users pick up books, it’s also setting its sights on providing an application that makes reading and sharing books easier. The company’s aforementioned iPhone application was specifically designed with typography in mind, so that users can read their books just as easily as they would a paper book. The service’s iPhone application also allows users to get recommendations from friends and family who also use the service.
Unfortunately, it isn’t quite ready for prime time. Right now, new uses are only able to sign up for a subscription by invitation. The service’s selection is also pretty limited at this point, though it has signed deals with HarperCollins, Smashwords, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and a few others. It’s also only available for the iPhone at this point, a curious choice since most users would likely consider the iPad a better reading experience.
However, if Oyster can weather those obstacles, the service could finally introduce a way for readers to get their content in a way that’s just as convenient as Netflix or Hulu Plus are for TV watchers. After all, the success of both of those services has demonstrated that if companies offer an easy way for users to consume content, they’ll flock to it in droves.