Ebook Susbscription Service Oyster Is Closing Up Shop
Oyster, the New York-based ebook subscription service and store, is shutting down.
Co-founders Andrew Brown, Willem Van Lacker and Eric Stromberg, who serves as CEO, are reportedly joining Google to work on Google Play Books.
Google and Oyster did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In a company blog post, the Oyster team wrote "We believe more than ever that the phone will be the primary reading device globally over the next decade…Looking forward, we feel this is best seized by taking on new opportunities to fully realize our vision for e-books. With that, we will be taking steps to sunset the existing Oyster service over the next several months."
Oyster was founded in 2012 and raised about $17 million in funding, with its latest round in January 2014, according to Crunchbase.
The company is not closing its doors immediately, noting that subscribers can expect an email within the next few weeks about their accounts. Users can also submit a refund request via refunds@oysterbooks.
For $9.95 per month, Oyster Unlimited subscribers could choose from over 1 million books to read online, on a smartphone or tablet. Customers were also able to buy books from the Oyster store without a subscription. Oyster also ran an online lit magazine called The Oyster Review and made Lumin, a blue light filter for tablets and phones screens for bedtime reading.
The Oyster store launched in April, with offerings from major publishers Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster, in an effort to boost revenue and compete with Amazon and other retailers. The app, however, is compatible with Apple and Android tablets and e-readers like Amazon's Kindle and Barnes and Noble's Nook.
The ebook subscription services that are still standing are Scribd, with a fee of 8.99 per month (also for a selection of more than a million books, though it recently culled a number of romance novels from its collection), and Amazon, which rolled out its Kindle Unlimited ebook subscription service last July for $9.99 per month.
With the hiring of Oyster's senior staff at Google, it seems that the tech giant could be making a play for a subscription service of its own.
Nina Zipkin is a staff writer at Entrepreneur.com. She frequently covers leadership, media, tech, startups, culture and workplace trends.