If there was any lingering questions around whether there is a market for monthly ebook subcriptions, Amazon surely went some way towards answering them when it introduced its $9.99 ‘all-you-can-read’ Kindle Unlimited plan last week.
While this raised many concerns around the implications for authors’ monetization, it will also have piqued the interest of existing players in the field – one of which is Oyster, the oft-called Netflix for ebooks.
While Amazon’s monthly subscription serves up 600,000 ebooks for $9.99, Oyster delivers 500,000 books for $9.95 a month. However, it’s reported that the vast majority of the titles available on Kindle Unlimited consist of self-published books via Kindle Direct Publishing, so these numbers may not tell the true story.
But there’s plenty of scope for Amazon to flex its muscles on this front and expand its content significantly. And there’s also the strength of Amazon’s existing cross-platform reach that stretches out to its Kindle ereader, iOS, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, PC, Mac and Windows 8 devices. Oyster? It has hitherto largely only been available for iOS, though it did finally arrive for Android, Kindle Fire and Nook HD last month.
Today, however, Oyster is making a big cross-platform push.
Words on the Web
Before, users could search for content through their Web-based account, but not actually read books. Oyster is now opening its subscription service to any browser across mobile and desktop which theoretically should make the service more appealing to anyone, regardless of the device they’re using. Though granted, if you’re using an iOS or Android device, you would be better off using the official native app.
This move brings Oyster into line with another of its competitors, Scribd, which is already available on the Web and serves up 400,000 books for $8.99 a month, while Amazon too offers a Web-based version for the desktop. However, one major selling point for Scribd is that it’s available globally, whereas Kindle Unlimited and Oyster remain US-only affairs for now. We’re told that expanding the Oyster service beyond the US is one of its highest priorities on the roadmap.
While Oyster is vague about its specific numbers, it does reveal that since it arrived on Android last month, more than a third (35 percent) of its total subscriber-base now read on Android, with three million pages read across all platforms every day.
Oyster is open in a browser near you now.