Oyster launched this month on the iPhone, and is claiming to be the Netflix or Spotify for ebooks. It’s getting the kind of news coverage that makes you think they might have all the right stuff to pull it off:
1) The pedigreed technology team.
2) A highly-connected-skillfully-timed-lucky person who can convince New York publishers to get behind a startup before it goes viral with enough quality content to make a subscription-based ebook offering viable, (100,000 non-public domain backlist books).
3) A buzz-genius who can get the product story started in the right media channels and keep it going (Forbes, Mashable, LA Times, GigaOm, Salon…), so people begin to believe this app might be the next big thing and to clamor for early adopter status.
They chose a good name - it does a lot of work for them. Starting as a smartphone app is surprising, but it makes them stand out.
This might grow the number of devoted readers in the U.S. because it provides proven titles that many people have heard of and would wish they had read, without the effort of thinking of them, deciding which to buy first, and purchasing them individually. You just pay a predictable amount of money, about the price of one book a month ($9.95), and you can be spontaneous in your reading choices along the way. If you get hooked on reading on-the-go, just read more, it won’t put a strain on your budget.
I think Oyster could introduce some new people to the unique joys of long-form, text-based access to great stories (i.e. books).
If that happens, the publishers are pleased and put in more content, well…
Netflix, Spotify… Oyster?