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E-Book App Oyster Is Closing Shop As Google Hires Its Cofounders

Oyster, an e-book subscription service inspired by Netflix and Spotify, is shuttering–and Google has scooped up its top execs.

E-Book App Oyster Is Closing Shop As Google Hires Its Cofounders
[Photo: courtesy of Oyster]

Oyster, the e-book subscription service and would-be Amazon competitor, is calling it quits. In a blog post published Monday, the Oyster team announced that, in the coming months, it would be “taking steps to sunset the existing Oyster service.”

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Modeled after Netflix and Spotify, Oyster gave its users unlimited access to a catalog of more than 1 million e-books for just $10 a month. Early this year, Oyster added the entire Harry Potter series to its library, along with a number of titles from Macmillan, which joined two of its fellow “big five” publishers, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster, on the platform. In April, Oyster attempted to expand beyond its subscription service and compete with the likes of Amazon, by introducing the option to buy newer e-books that publishers wouldn’t make available to subscribers.

While its formatting was clean and easy on the eyes–much more so than the Kindle app, in fact–Oyster faced an uphill battle as it tried to take on Amazon’s vast selection and readership. But the company’s blog post makes clear that while this is the end of the road for Oyster in its existing form, its founding team feels strongly about the future of e-books:

As we continue on, we couldn’t be more excited about the future of ebooks and mobile reading. We believe more than ever that the phone will be the primary reading device globally over the next decade—enabling access to knowledge and stories for billions of people worldwide. Looking forward, we feel this is best seized by taking on new opportunities to fully realize our vision for ebooks.

If those words smack of optimism, it’s because cofounders Eric Stromberg, Andrew Brown, and Willem Van Lancker have already taken their talents elsewhere. According to Re/code, the Oyster execs and several other employees are joining Google’s e-book division–a move that could hint at a forthcoming e-book subscription service from Google. In what sounds suspiciously like an acqui-hire, Google will supposedly pay investors who backed Oyster in exchange for hiring part of the company’s team, Re/code reports.

[via Re/code]

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About the author

Pavithra Mohan is an assistant editor for Fast Company Digital. Her writing has previously been featured in Gizmodo and Popular Science magazine.

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