Photo: Courtesy of Oyster Books.
Last week, iPhone users got their own digital library in the form of Oyster, an e-book platform that gives subscribers access to 100,000 titles for $9.95 a month. (iPad users, yours is on the way this fall.) Selections from major publishers like HarperCollins, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Workman, and SmashWords are available, meaning for less than the cost of most paperbacks, the digital literary world just might be your, well, oyster.
Essentially, the library improves on the mobility of Kindle and augments it with the functionality and customization of Netflix and Spotify. You can search for literature by title or genre, and receive edited recommendations for news, films, and other cultural happenings. And, like Spotify, you can follow your friends' reads — but even more importantly, hide your own from prying eyes, thanks to Oyster's privacy mode. (No one has to know you read Sophie Kinsella at work, but while you're at it — Oyster will be happy to recommend you more clandestine shame-reads!)
The men behind the brand — Eric Stromberg, Andrew Brown and Willem Van Lancker — aren't ready to discuss how publishers and authors benefit financially from the platform, so the pros and cons for literary creators remains a mystery. But, it is great for restless readers — and its efficiency will likely spawn imitators. That said, no algorithm will ever replace the feeling of browsing a musty library aisle on a rainy afternoon and accidentally stumbling upon a book that saves your life. (FORBES)