Photo: flickr / John Barker
A new startup, Oyster, is aiming to be for books what Spotify is for music: an all-you-can-eat, unlimited service for a set monthly fee.The company recently raised $3 million in a round led by Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund.
The first version, an iPhone app, isn’t available yet.
“We’re building Oyster as an end-to-end product created specifically for mobile,” founders Eric Stromberg, Andrew Brown, and Willem Van Lancker wrote on the company blog. “Everything from recommendations to the in-book experience allows you to easily reach for books at moments of impulse throughout your day— whether on the subway, waiting for a friend to meet you for coffee, or while relaxing in the park.”
Oyster will feature a variety of best-selling books and classic novels.
The founders are all tech industry veterans. Stromberg previously did business development at Hunch, the recommendation service recently bought by eBay; Brown worked at both Google and Microsoft; and Lancker worked as a user-experience designer for Google Maps.
Amazon has a similar service, but what sets Oyster apart is that it will be compatible with iPhone users, while Amazon’s Lending Library is only availble for those who own Amazon’s Kindle devices and subscribe to its Prime membership service. (While Amazon has Kindle reader software for the iPhone, the Lending Library feature doesn’t work with it.)
Depending on the quality and quantity of content Oyster offers in its library, the company could pose a threat to Amazon. And publishers are generally eager to work with anyone who might keep Amazon in check. But first we’ll have to see how much the service will cost, which the company has yet to reveal.