January 25, 2022

Oyster, a Spotify/Netflix-Like Service for E-Books Launches, Is the Library Community Preparing for These Types of Services?

Earlier this week we mentioned a new Spotify/Netflix-like service for ebooks launching named eReatah.

The mention is located in a post about Amazon’s Kindle Online Lending Library (KOLL) now offering access to more than 400,000 titles (a number of them self-published, type of material that Douglas County, CO Libraries are offering users access to).

Allow us to repeat what we said the other day and have been saying for nearly two years:

The library world needs not only to be aware of KOLL and other “Netflix” like services but plan for similar types of services in the works.

11 months ago in this infoDOCKET post we introduced another “Nettflx” like service for ebooks named Oyster that was in the development stage.

Say Hello to Oyster

Today, Oyster launched a private beta. You can register for an invite here. Right now the service is only available for iPhone users.

Subscribers pay $9.95/month for access to unlimited number of ebooks.

More specifics about Oyster below.

We Need to Prepare (We Should Have Been Doing This More than a Year Ago)

Of course, every title ever published isn’t available from Oyster (and other services) but what is available has received favorable reviews thus far.

We’ll add that while no one service will ever “have it all” be prepared for a number of specialty “all you can read/Netflix-like” services to come. For example, ebooks by genre, special interest, etc.

Sadly, the library community as a whole has done little to discuss these types of services and what they will mean for the future.

This does NOT mean that libraries providing access to ebooks is going to go away.

Hardly. It is not a zero-sum game.

What it does mean is that libraries need to plan now for the future and also decide how to serve our users and co-exist with these services now and in the next 1-3 years.

What Did We Say?/Say it Again

infoDOCKET has much more to say about in a post from last year.

Oyster Facts and Coverage

  • Direct to Oyster Web Site
  • More than 100,000 titles available as of today. New titles added weekly
  • According to the company, rights to distribute a title are usually secured a “few months” after a book is released
  • No limits on how many books you can read
  • “People-Powered” book discovery
  • Ereader app offers “five custom themes that combine elements of typography”
  • iPhone app available as of today. iPad app coming this Fall. No plans for other apps at this time (via FAQ)
  • Books can be downloaded and read offline
  • U.S. only. Subscribers can access the services from outside the country to download new titles to their device


No, seriously: Oyster comes pretty close to being a Netflix for ebooks (via Gigaom)

Laura Hazard Owen writes in an excellent intro/review:

you will not find hot new bestsellers here. But you will find real books that you have heard of, published within the last decade, from publishers that you have heard of (if you follow that sort of thing). A sampling of the books available: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, Life of Pi by Yann Martel, The Best American Short Stories 2012, Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and The HobbitInterpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri, The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, In Sunlight and in Shadow by Mark Helprin, Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane, Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer, Predictably Irrationalby Dan Ariely, Just Kids by Patti Smith.

From Co.Design: How Oyster the New e-Library Solves These 3-Design Problems with Mobile Reading

From Digital Book World:

The company is launching with 100,000 ebook titles available from publishers such as HarperCollins, Workman, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and self-publishing distributor Smashwords.


About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.