Have you ever bought an Ebook and wondered why buying that book is almost or just as expensive as buying the actual book? I for sure have and ever since I have been looking for an easier and less expensive way.
In the past it has usually been me buying a used copy of the book, but now a good alternative exists. I already pay for Netflix for my movies, Spotify for my music and Amazon Prime for TV shows and I use Redbox for games, so why has it taken so long for books. But we have it now with Oyster.
Oyster, a New York-based company is rolling out invitations for what people are calling the Netflix of books. The service is $9.95 a month and has more than 100,000 books, with new ones being added all the time. It was only a matter of time before a company came along and made a subscription service for books.
Sweet and simple design
What really makes this app great is the simple design. From the moment you open the app you can very figure out how to navigate around the app and easily get started on your first book.
When you sign up for the service they ask you to chose five books to start off with. Their collections includes many best sellers and tons of classic books for your reading pleasure. When you finish signing up they they send you a link to download the app. After installing the app you can start reading your selected books. The app allows you can change the text font, size and even change brightness of the screen. A feature that I like the most is seeing the number of pages until the next chapter begins as well as what percentage you have read.
Make Reading Social
Oyster also is venturing into making your reading a social experience. In the app you can set up a profile, add a picture, show off all the books you have read and follow what your friends are reading. You can even highlight what your favorite books are. If you are ever wondering what to read next, all you have to do is see what your friends recommend or what books they have featured as their favorites. There are a few features that could be added to make it more social, such as Facebook and Twitter integration, but this is a good start.
The Biggest Problem
The biggest problem for me is that they went live with and charged people for a service that does not have an iPad version. Personally I think they should have not launched the service until the iPad version was done. They have said that they expect to launch the iPad app later this fall. I love my iPhone but it is nothing like the reading experience of an iPad. Oyster has plans to expand to other devices other than the iPhone and iTouch, but they have not set a date.
This is an amazing service and I am glad a company has came out with a way for people to have access to so many books by paying a small subscription service. This is perfect for people who read a book once and will never read it again. You can wait for the iPad launch or get it now. If you are one of those government workers impacted by the shutdown, this might be the perfect app because you will have lots of time to catch up on reading.
UPDATE 10/16/13: Oyster released an iPad version of their app today.
Erik Hoffman is a web designer and computer consultant. He has run a computer consulting company for the past four years where he enhanced businesses by designing and developing user-friendly websites that have helped companies reach targeted revenues.