Oyster: The Ebook Smorgasboard

If we can have all the movies and TV shows we want for a monthly fee, on Netflix, why not do the same for ebooks? Oyster is doing just that. Currently rolling out by invitation only, Oyster plans to offer unlimited ebooks for $10 a month. The company claims to have more than 100,000 titles, Oyster works via an iPhone app, and the company says an iPad version is coming soon.

This is a great idea, and, unfortunately, I’m unable to test it, as it’s US-only for now (and, perhaps, forever, given the way licensing agreements work). I’d want to be able to access books on more than just an iPhone: for me, an iPad is essential, and I’d expect the company will extend to other platforms, such as Android, in the future.

I’d certainly pay $10 a month to read ebooks, but only if the selection was good enough. I subscribe to Netflix, and, while there’s plenty to watch, there’s a lot of dreck. Netflix is great for TV series, but not so good for recent movies. For an all-you-can-read ebook service, I’d expect a broad selection, and, for now, the only major publisher on board is HarperCollins. But I’m sure that, if this proves successful, Oyster will be able to get other big publishers, and offer a selection that would be worth the cost.