Netflix changed the way many people watch videos when the company started offering the ability to stream as many TV shows and movies as you’d like for as little as $8 per month. Now a company called Oyster wants to do something similar with eBooks.
Here’s the pitch: You pay $9.95 per month and you can read any book in the Oyster library at any time. At launch Oyster offers 100,000 eBooks and they’re all books you would normally have to pay for (not free titles from Charles Dickens and Jane Austen).
The only catch is that right now Oyster is only available for iOS, and you need an invite to join the service.
This isn’t the first subscription-based eBook service. For instance Amazon Prime subscribers get access to 350,00 books in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library for $79 per year — and they also get access to thousands of streaming movies and TV shows and free 2-day shipping on orders.
But Amazon only lets Prime members borrow one book per month form its library. Oyster lets you read as much as you can.
On the one hand, it might seem a bit odd to pay $2 per month more to read books than to stream videos from Netflix. After all, you can probably get through far more movies in a month than books — but if you’re the sort of person that normally buys more than a few bucks a month at full price, Oyster can save you a lot of money.
Unfortunately, like Netflix, Spotify, and other subscription-based media service, you don’t actually get to keep anything you’ve paid for. If you stop paying the monthly subscription, all of your books go away.
If you don’t often re-read books, that’s probably not a big deal. But if you like to revisit books again and again you’ll either have to keep paying, or buy your eBooks from another store.