Can Oyster Beat Amazon with Its Subscription-Based E-Book App?

In 2012, Oyster secured $3 million in financing by Founders Fund, and today the New York startup has begun the invitation process for its app. Commonly referred to as "Netflix for e-books," Oyster offers unlimited books for $9.95 a month. Currently, the app is stocked with over 100,000 titles, updated weekly.

With e-book offerings from Apple, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble, competition is stiff. For instance, Amazon's Lending Library is offered with no due dates, but there is a finite number of copies available and users can only have one book at a time.

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Oyster's features may fill in the gaps other e-book services have overlooked.

With the success of subscription-based streaming services like Spotify and Netflix, Oyster hopes to bring the same accessibility to e-books. Most of the current e-book services limit customers to one book at a time, without a true subscription-based model.

"From international bestsellers and celebrated classics, to cult sci-fi and seminal biographies," the app has something for everyone. Well-known publishers already on board include HarperCollins, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and Rodale. Some of the titles include J.R.R Tolkien's Lord of the Rings series and The Hobbit, Yann Martel's Life of Pi, and Howard Schultz's Onward: How Starbucks fought for Its Life Without Losing Its Soul.

Oyster will also be focusing on sharing and discovery. Profiles are set up by users, complete with favorites, recent activity, and tabs to see what your friends have been reading.

Editorial sets, personalized recommendation settings, and five different themes can be customized for a more user-friendly reading experience on mobile.

The app will be available exclusively for iPhone, with plans for an iPad release in the future.

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Jordan Joynt is a digital producer and freelance technology writer. He covers the latest apps, mobile games, and accessories for Apple’s mobile products. You can see some of his articles on <a href=""></a>.