I bought the premium version of the Oyster iPad app few months ago, and I must say that I’m in love with it. It’s a Netflix for books, and I like that model. For $10 per month, I’ve access to a catalog of 500,000+ books, book recommendations based on my reading history as well as curated lists.
Recently, the app has started to offer flexible pricing options – $42.99 for 3 mo, $84.99 for 6 mo. and $159.99 for 1 year. One can even purchase a subscription for a customized number of months.
What I like about Oyster:
- Design – Simple, elegant and customizable design of Oyster beats Kindle, iBooks and Scribd.
- Search and Browse – Search and browse experience makes it easy to use on mobile devices.
- Recommendations in form of Top Books in a Category, Award-Winners, Recommendations for you and New Releases. Being able to view recommendations and instantly add the book to the reading list, unlike Goodreads, is powerful.
- Mobile Experience on iPad is really slick! The app is better suited for tablets than smartphones.
- Reading Experience is very utility-driven, hence making it easier to get back to reading often.
- Customizable themes and fonts.
- Ability to highlight sections and view those as notes is convenient.
- Reading progress (x% complete) indicator is motivating.
- Estimated Number of Hours attribute in book description helps me refine and prioritize my reading list.
- Allows logins across multiple devices.
- Ability to download books for offline reading.
Features that would make it more powerful:
- Ability to view time taken to read a book so I can benchmark my reading speed against average speed.
- Ability to follow leaders and hence their recommended reading list. For example, ’14 Books that Mark Zuckerberg’s Thinks Everyone Should Read’
- Ability to view books read and recommended by my friends, and share my list with them. Maybe an integration with Goodreads.
- Ability to view analytics such as ‘Number of users reading this book right now.’
Update 2015: Since Oyster’s demise, I have moved to hard copy books and audiobooks. Kindle Unlimited and Scribd are good alternatives but I miss Oyster’s user experience. Both offer free trials. Scribd offers 3 books and 1 audiobook for 8.99/month. Whereas, Kindle offers unlimited reading and listening for $9.99/mo. It also has a collection of 3M books and audiobooks.