All-you-can-consume models for media has been a hit for a reason: you get to devour a whole host of fare for a small fixed price every month. It worked for movies, it worked for music, it worked for magazines. And Oyster, a new unlimited service for reading books, could very well find the same results.
Like Netflix and Spotify, the service gives you access to its library of books at a flat monthly rate. You don’t own any of the books, but you get to read them as much as you want as long as you’re subscribed to the service.
As of the moment, Oyster’s inventory consists of 100,000 books from a variety of publishers. While that may sound a little thin considering the amount of printed matter out there, they currently include a good load of titles from HarperCollins, Houghton Miffin, and a few other smaller publishers, so there’s quite a healthy selection to keep your reading glasses busy. Aside from being able to read all the books you want, the accompanying app will also include a social component that sounds like it’s lifted right out of Goodreads’ playbook, so you can monitor what your friends are reading. As of now, the system is only available for the iPhone, but an iPad version is coming soon.
Of course, you can always just join a local library and borrow ebooks for free. But we’re guessing this lets you bypass the limited copies of each title (so silly for digital products) libraries usually stock, so that’s a big differentiating feature right there.
The Oyster Books service is currently invite-only (you can request an invitation from the website), with no word on when they will roll it out to the general public. Flat rate is $9.95 per month.