Is Oyster the new Netflix for books?

Oyster for iPhone

(Courtesy of Oyster Books)

It offers an unlimited number of digital books each month for a set fee. It allows readers to search by title or author or genre. It provides recommendations based on topics in the news. Its social media function connects readers.

Is Oyster the new Netflix for books?

Released last week for iPhones and iPads, the mobile app allows readers to read an unlimited number of e-books — choosing from a catalog of 100,000 — each month, all for $9.95.

Plenty of tech and business blogs are calling it a Netflix for books. They’re also comparing it to Spotify’s streaming service for music. To me, it sounds like the library — only the library is free.

There have been struggles for libraries, yes, in acquiring the rights from the “Big Six” publishers to purchase the publishers’ e-books at a reasonable price and lend them out to patrons.

Oyster iPhone

(Courtesy of Oyster Books)

Perhaps Oyster is an answer to this — a low-cost way to borrow digital books unavailable at local libraries without committing to a $12.99 price tag each time. I’m curious as to how much overlap there will be, and how many titles would be available via Oyster that are not sold (or are too costly) for library distribution.

Or, at some point, would Oyster (or a similar service) take a turn as a content creator or publisher, as Netflix has with “House of Cards” and “Orange Is the New Black”?

We’ll find out in time, I suppose. For now, Oyster is available through invite only (interested readers can request one at and only on the iPhone. An iPad version is set for release this fall.

Also of interest:
York County Libraries face challenges with publishers’ restrictions
Want to see what your friends are reading? Sign up for Goodreads
Readers respond: E-books or print — or both?

About Sarah Chain

I'm an avid reader and book lover living and working in downtown York. Follow me on Twitter at @sarahEchain.
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