Oyster (company)

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Oyster logo
Oyster product screenshot — home
Type Private
Founded 2012
Headquarters New York City, New York, United States
Industry Publishing
Website www.oysterbooks.com
Alexa rank Positive12,656 (January 2014)[1]
Launched 6 September 2013

Oyster is an ebook subscription service available for Apple iOS 7+, Android 4+, Nook HD, and Kindle Fire. It is also available on any web browser on a desktop computer. Oyster currently holds over 500,000 books in its library and is constantly growing.


The company was founded in 2012 by Eric Stromberg, Andrew Brown, and Willem Van Lancker, and is headquartered in New York City, NY. In October 2012, Oyster received $3 million in seed funding led by Founders Fund, a San Francisco based venture capital firm founded by Peter Thiel and Ken Howery.[2] On January 14, 2014, Oyster announced a $14 million funding round, led by Highland Capital Partners.[3]

Oyster launched on September 5, 2013, opening paid access, at $9.95 a month, via invitations available on a first-come, first-served basis. Common early criticisms included limited content and lack of multiplatform support, but its reading experience and design were widely praised. Within ten days, users had read over a million pages.[4]

On October 16, 2013, Oyster launched support for the iPad.[5] The company also removed invitations as a requirement to join, and offered a 30-day free trial to all new users. Along with an iOS app redesign, the website additionally allowed for browsing of curated book lists.

In June 2014 the company expanded its services to Android and Kindle Fire devices and in July 2014, the company launched a web reader application.


Oyster offers several different reading modes, access to over 500,000 titles, and book recommendations from its editorial staff. Users can also take advantage of highlighting and notes features and share their activities with friends using the platform.


HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster are the only Big Five publishers that have titles available through Oyster, but a number of smaller presses have distributed their works to their service including Perseus and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Smashwords, a self-publishing platform, also distributes to Oyster. They would appear to be the primary publisher of works available on Oyster.

Carolyn Reidy, CEO of Simon & Schuster, told a panel at Digital Book World in 2014 that the publisher had not signed up over "unresolved questions about how to avoid devaluing books and cannibalizing sales."[6] However, in May, the publisher added their entire backlist at that point, consisting of about 14,000 titles, to the platform.[7]

Oyster offers titles from over 1,600 publishers.

Data Collection[edit]

The New York Times reported that Oyster and Scribd were among new ebook platforms which collected data on users' reading habits.[8]

Critical Reception[edit]

Reviews of Oyster from tech outlets have been largely positive. Wired described the design as "gorgeous"[9] and PandoDaily said the app "makes Amazon look old." [10]

Some have been skeptical, though. The New Yorker's Ian Crouch wrote that the app "takes its name from a line in “The Merry Wives of Windsor” (“the world’s mine oyster,” spoken, incidentally, by a thief)" in a review that called the app's features "unsettling." [11]


  1. ^ "oysterbooks.com - Traffic Details from Alexa". Alexa Internet, Inc. Retrieved 18 January 2014. 
  2. ^ "Oyster raises $3 million from Founders Fund for "Spotify for books"". PandoDaily. PandoDaily. 10 October 2013. Retrieved 22 October 2013. 
  3. ^ "=New Partners for Our Next Chapter". Oyster. Oyster. 14 January 2014. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  4. ^ "Ebook subscription startup Oyster expands to iPad and opens to all; some stats from Scribd". GigaOM. GigaOM. 16 October 2013. Retrieved 22 October 2013. 
  5. ^ "Oyster, now on your iPad". Oyster. Oyster. 16 October 2013. Retrieved 22 October 2013. 
  6. ^ http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-01-15/new-subscription-model-for-e-books-challenges-traditional-publishers
  7. ^ http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevenbertoni/2014/05/21/oyster-books-scores-stephen-king-hemingway-and-more-in-simon-schuster-deal/
  8. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/25/technology/as-new-services-track-habits-the-e-books-are-reading-you.html?pagewanted=all&action=click&module=Search&region=searchResults%230&version=&url=http%3A%2F%2Fquery.nytimes.com%2Fsearch%2Fsitesearch%2F%3Faction%3Dclick%26region%3DMasthead%26pgtype%3DHomepage%26module%3DSearchSubmit%26contentCollection%3DHomepage%26t%3Dqry826%23%2Foyster%2520books
  9. ^ http://www.wired.com/design/2013/09/is-this-netflix-of-books-the-next-big-thing-in-publishing/
  10. ^ http://pando.com/2013/09/05/the-netflix-for-books-is-here-its-mobile-and-it-makes-amazon-look-old/
  11. ^ http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/books/2013/09/oyster-iphone-app-ereader-what-does-it-mean-to-own-a-book.html