In today’s society, the all-you-can-eat subscription model has changed our ideas about media consumption. We want instant streaming and we want it now. Netflix is the prime example. With over 30 million subscribers, Netflix provides instant television show and movie watching gratification. It isn’t uncommon for a Netflix user to watch an entire season of a TV show in only a matter of days. For only $7.99 a month, the amount a subscriber can watch is practically endless.

The idea of a book subscription model isn’t anything new. The Book-of-the-Month Club was founded in 1926, and in the 1980s was a grand publishing enterprise with millions of members across the United States. Mail-order book clubs are still around, but on a much smaller scale. The book subscription model seemed just to fizzle out. However, with the immense popularity of buffet style media platforms like Netflix and Spotify, the idea of a book subscription has nuzzled its way to the surface again. Amazon does have some-what of a book subscription service offered through Amazon Prime. Those with a Kindle can borrow one eBook per month with a Prime membership, which costs $79 per year. For the Prime members, this isn’t a bad idea. Although, it isn’t a true eat-your-heart-out subscription service.

Welcome Oyster, a true monthly eBook subscription service. What started as an app last September for iPhones and iPads, Oyster is now a full-fledged web service with over 100,000 eBooks in its repertoire. HarperCollins with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Workman, and Perseus Books Groups provide a large percentage. The newest titles are not included in this contribution, however. With Oyster, readers pay $9.95 a month to check out as many eBooks as they please. Oyster is currently still available only to Apple devices, but a service for Androids is in the works. How do publishers receive their cut? According to one of Oyster’s founders and CEO, Eric Stromberg, Oyster pays “publishers each time a book is read and the amount is based on the digital list price for the book.” With only the eBook production costs, publishers may not have a lot to lose when it comes to teaming up with Oyster. The main issue for this subscription model is if readers check out and read more books than Oyster can compensate the publishers for. Nonetheless, if Oyster becomes popular with eBook readers, the company could truly revolutionize how we look at book consumption.
Sources: The Atlantic and CNET