Oyster Upgrades Online E-Book Services

Amazon is faced with new competition as Oyster, a fledgling online service in comparison, is upgrading their e-book subscriptions for their customers. On Wednesday, Oyster bid farewell to their prior business tactics of lending out books to their subscribers for $9.95 per month. Now, they are beginning to sell books as individual items with the intention of drawing in more business.

With the e-book market growing bigger over the past year, and publishers establishing values evenly among online sellers like Amazon and Oyster, Oyster feels this is a promising time to change their market strategy. With prices the same all across the market, the edge goes to those whose services are the most user-friendly, among other things.

Eric Stromberg, Oyster’s CEO, said that discovery and design are also things that add to one’s business successes. He mentioned that prices will not be as big of an issue since e-book prices range from $9.99 to $14.99. The same goes for Amazon, Apple, and other e-book providers.

Putting Apple aside, Amazon is a prime contender for Oyster. The massive online conglomerate is approximated to hold more than 50 percent of the American digital book market, and that percentage grows on a global scale. Also apart of the equation is the ease of access in which subscribers can get to their purchases. Apple has their iPad and Amazon their Kindle. Without a device of their own, breaking down more doors into the market will be much harder to achieve.

As it stands, Oyster only has one option, for their app to be used by their users with smartphones and tablets, for more easily accessible books. However, the biggest smartphone and tablet distributors are their major competitors. Oyster’s early success of getting three of the largest publishers in the nation to support them has waned in recent months. While they’re granted with 1 million plus books, the publishers wait months at a time to bestow Oyster with newer titles.

The biggest chance that Oyster has is that they are not as widespread with their services as Amazon. Amazon caters to music, movies, television, books, etc. The trouble with that decision is that other services, such as Spotify (music) and Hulu and Netflix (for movies and television), are garnering more subscribers from Amazon. The Kindle Unlimited service, which launched in 2014, is the company’s way of securing e-book readers. However, the Kindle Unlimited has received scorn from some of the publishers that supply it with titles.

The CEO of Penguin Random House, Tom Weldon, thinks that readers do not have a read-all-I-can mentality. He says that one might listen to 10,ooo songs or watch just as many movies, but no one will read as many books. Arnaud Nourry, the CEO of Hachette, practically called such a subscription service a flawed endeavor, stating how there are so few people who read more than two books a month.

Going off of the word of those two publishers, Oyster has a greater chance to upgrade and expand their e-book services, especially since they were able to secure more agreements with a larger portion of the online book industry. When their e-book store opens, they will offer the same prices they have now, which may help them to combat Amazon in the future.

By Matthew Austin Bowers

Wall Street Journal

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