Oyster is a subscription service for books that launched in 2013. For $9.95 per month, members can read more than 500,000 titles on the web, Android and iOS devices. Titles include New York Times bestsellers, award winners and new releases from more than 1,600 distinguished publishers. Based in New York, it is backed by Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund. Oyster has agreements with most of the major publishers in the industry and is expanding its catalogue every week.

I have been subscribing to Oyster for some time now. Oyster provides a pleasurable reading experience and uncluttered screen space that doesn’t take away the attention from my reading. It is available across all the major e-reader platforms. For me, I find it more appealing than my iBook reader. Moreover, with cloud, I can seamlessly continue my reading from the Web to my tablet. It is very reasonably priced at $9.95/month with no limitations on the number of books I can read. There are discussions and recommendations, like in Goodreads, although Oyster provides a more holistic personal experience.

Oyster sends a newsletter with book and event recommendations to its subscribers. They have well-designed guides to navigate their site, customized reader themes and the flexibility to cancel the subscription anytime without penalty. They have a very prompt Technical Support team that reach out to you when you have a problem and contemplating what channel to reach out through.

Oyster has a social function that helps us connect to our friends with similar reading preferences as ours. They have the usual social mediums like Facebook and Twitter to collaborate and share reading experiences. They also have a blog and a forum for users to express themselves. Subscribers can send gift subscriptions to their friends. The best thing about these referral mediums in Oyster are that they are simple and intuitive.

Oyster does not intend to replace paperbacks. Instead, its strategy is to complement book reading and simplify the reading experience in the age of digital media. Its long-term success will depend on its ability to provide in-demand titles to its customers across major publishers and to have strong differentiating factors as a brand to steer away from competition.


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