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Oyster App Brings Ebook Library to Your Pocket

Kate Abbott:  Mashable

Though Apple and Amazon seem to have the ebooks market cornered, another startup has entered the digital books space to broaden readers’ selections. Oyster, a startup located in New York City, recently announced plans to launch a subscription-based book app, tailored specifically for smartphones.

The first round of Oyster’s financing -– $3 million — was led by Founders Fund, but the startup is releasing few details on its anticipated product. Eric Stromberg, Oyster’s CEO and co-founder, says the team is currently focusing on iOS and developing contracts with some publishing houses.

Oyster subscribers will be able to pay a monthly fee for unlimited access to novels, and can maintain a digital library — similar to what Spotify does for music, and what Netflix does for movies and television shows. “Just as they’re different services from one another, we’re going to be very different from each of them, especially with the uniqueness of the book in mind,” Stromberg says.

 

But how will Oyster differentiate itself from downloading books to a tablet or Kindle? The team is planning a “discovery” aspect that will let readers work entirely within the app, rather than reverting to a store or webpage to download another book.

 

SEE ALSO: Do E-Reader Owners Read More Books?

“Currently, people buy books online in the exact same way that they buy lamps, blenders and kitchen knives,” the team explains in a blog post. “The process of finding your next book is very different from purchasing a knife, and it should be treated that way.”

No word yet on how much a subscription will cost, but a monthly fee makes economic sense, given that one book often costs more than $10. As well, the ability to access books without the inconvenience of carrying physical copies or downloading each individual text is enticing.

“We’re lowering the barrier to starting new books, and that drives everything we do,” Stromberg says. “Once you pay the subscription price, the barrier to starting a new book is very low. When everyone has access to the same library or set of books, that makes discovery a lot more seamless."

And why the focus on smartphones? Stromberg is confident that Oyster's software will make scrolling on the iPhone screen enjoyable.

"We’d love to see a world where you’re 20 minutes early to a coffee meeting or you’re riding [the] subway and you find your next great book and start reading," he says.

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