Oyster is a service that allows for unlimited reading for $9.99/month. Presently they have 1 million books in their library and I find the service to be very elegant and engaging.
Things I like most about Oyster:
-Ability to read directly from an iPad app
-The user interface is clean, simple, and elegant
-Progress bar that displays progress made while reading books
-Pages remaining display for books
-Ability to create reading lists
-Ability to follow friends
-Recommendation e-mails after a book is finished
The easiest way to understand Oyster is to think of it as the Netflix of books. Where Netflix brought abundance to the world of movies and television, Oyster is bringing abundance to books. It really amazes me that at any given moment I can access over 1 million books on my iPad without making separate purchases. And given that the service is fairly new I expect that this is just the beginning. As a comparison to give you a sense of the scope of the Oyster book selection, it is estimated that the Library of Alexandria had 400,000 scrolls at it’s height and the U.S. Library of Congress presently has 16 million books.
My interests lie mainly in technology and business and so far I am in the process of reading Abundance by Peter Diamandis and recently finished a book called Great Leaders: Warren Buffett. Apparently Great Leaders is a series of short books which highlight individual great leaders. The Warren Buffett book was interesting as it had many of the highlights of his earlier biography Snowball, but it’s a succinct summary at approximately 60 pages. I may not have discovered the Great Leaders series if I were not a member of Oyster.
The following are some screenshots of Oyster.
The first is a screen capture of the books I am currently reading, note that each book has a progress bar. Basically this is your personalized Home screen.
Next is my personal reading list and a list of New Releases. Similar to Netflix the mobile interface allows you to browse by just swiping through the covers of each book.
The Oyster interface also displays what is presently popular on Oyster and the current New York Times Bestsellers.
There is also a category for Recently Added items as well as miscellaneous categories such as Great Americans.
Next are items recommended specifically for me, in this case there are Business Essentials and Business History – perfect!
A cover image of something I am presently reading – so far this is an excellent book!
One of my favorite features of reading on Oyster is the table of contents feature. It’s easy to access by tapping the bulletized list icon and is presented as a pop-up. It also shows a percentage complete for each major division within the book. Your current location is highlighted.
This next image shows how a book is presented in Oyster. Similar to other mobile app readers, but overall I am pleased with the simplicity of the interface. My most often used features are the table of contents (as discussed it’s nice that it does not interrupt reading by navigating you away from the book) and the pages remaining within a section and time remaining. In addition, the “X” icon allows you to exit a book, the “Aa” icon allows you to change the presentation style of the book, and the text bubble is a list of highlights.
Oyster sends a recommendation e-mail upon completion of a book. This was the recommendation e-mail after completing my first book Great Leaders: Warren Buffett. The recommendations are surprisingly accurate considering I am a relatively new user. I added both the Great Leaders book recommendations – J.P. Morgan and Ray Kroc to my Reading List and had already read The Millionaire Mind which is an excellent read. At the moment I’m not sure if there is a way to note that I already read that book, but I guess I can just go in and sift through it quickly so the recommendation algorithms can factor that in next time. It’s also useful that the recommendation e-mail includes items that are Popular On Oyster, although none of the featured titles were of interest to me at the moment.
Beyond basic reading Oyster also has Explore, Activity, and Profile features. The Explore feature allows you to explore various genres and even allows for a deeper dive.
I believe the Oyster Activity feature is like a typical activity feed similar to other social networks. At the moment I am the only person within my circle using Oyster so my feed is empty. If anyone is interested in connecting on Oyster either follow me there or send me an e-mail at info(at)jrsedivy.com and I would be happy to connect!
The Profile feature is a simple profile that displays your name, location, title and shows metrics for number of followers and people you are following. Your Reading List is also displayed.
One of the coolest aspects of Oyster is their sharing mechanism. Oyster presently offers both the individual sharing and the person receiving the invite a $15 credit to their accounts, which currently equates to six weeks of usage. A personalized link is provided with one click sharing buttons for Facebook, Twitter, and E-Mail. Furthermore, the sharing feature is gamified with a progress bar. One of the most interesting aspects is that the original invite page is updated with individuals who created accounts and invitees who joined Oyster. Credit is allocated to both the individual inviting their contact and the invitee once they join. The person who sent the original invite will also receive an e-mail once the invitee joined so you can connect with your friend if desired.
There aren’t many products that I share with my immediate circle, but Oyster was different. In my opinion Oyster probably has the strongest sharing mechanism for the following reasons:
-It gives equal value to the individual sharing the service and the individual receiving the invite upon joining
-Recipient status showing which individuals created an account and of those, who eventually joins
-Progress bar which indicates how close you are to receiving maximum credit
-One click sharing via social media
Beyond mechanics, the sharing mechanism works because Oyster has immediate value and because of this lends itself to sharing by existing users.
If you are an avid reader I highly recommend Oyster. With over 1 million books and a beautiful and elegant user interface it is really a joy to use. Oyster has the potential to improve your life by making books an abundant resource in your life.
If you do give Oyster a try as a result of this article, feel free to use the following invite link as we will both receive Oyster credit: