E-Book startup Oyster launches a new e-book store

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By Larry Banks

A tiny startup company is aiming to become the next Amazon – the company called Oyster is an e-book subscription service that is often called the “Netflix for books” as it offers unlimited reading for just $9.95 a month. And now it’s opening a new store for one-off purchases.

Oyster offers more than a million books

The company has signed up all the ‘big five’ publishers and lots of smaller houses too, brining several hundred thousand new books to the 1 million titles already available for subscription-only download.

“Amazon paved the way in e-books,” cofounder Willem Van Lancker said recently. “We want to be the Amazon of the next 10 years. We want to build the company that takes e-books into the next wave.”

Oyster Books

Amazon has led the e-book market for years and controls a third of the overall trade in books in the US, and starting selling more digital books than physical ones back in 2011. The company has also launched a subscription service for $9.99, but still offers just 700,00 titles, much less than Oyster.

“Since the launch of its subscription service in September 2013, Oyster has shown itself to be an innovative player in the e-book market,” HarperCollins chief digital officer Chantal Restivo-Alessi said in Oyster’s press release. “HarperCollins looks forward to growing its relationship with Oyster as it expands the choices it offers consumers.”

In the subscription service, Oyster pays the publishers every time a reader makes it through a percentage of a book. Publishes also get a cut of sales in the new store, and it claims the prices are competitive. The company has not yet said how many people have signed up since it launched subscription services in 2013, but that its growing user base reads more than 100 million pages a month.

Oyster was launched by Van Lancker, formerly of Google and now the chief product officer, Eric Stromberg from eBay, and Andrew Brown, also previously at Google. The New York City-based company now has around 30 employees and has raised $17 million in funding so far.

“To date, the e-book retail experience has been about efficiency,” Van Lancker says. “There’s a search bar on Amazon, and others where you know the book you want and you go and find it. As Amazon thinks about most businesses, it’s akin to a warehouse. It’s that model of efficiency, but there isn’t the beauty, the design, and the discovery. We really built Oyster as a book store.”

Ultimately, he says, Oyster wants to be the “most creative and interesting company in books.”

SOURCE: Oyster Books

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