'Netflix for Books' Calls It Quits

Oyster team is joining Google instead
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 22, 2015 2:28 AM CDT
'Netflix for Books' Calls It Quits
This product image provided by Oyster shows the Oyster e-book app on an iPhone, left, and iPad.   (AP Photo/Oyster)

A service billed as a Netflix for books is calling it quits after failing to attract enough voracious readers willing to pay $9.95 a month for access to 1 million books. Oyster, which launched in 2013, announced in a blog post that it's going to "sunset" the service over the next few months, the Wall Street Journal reports. The company says it believes "more than ever that the phone will be the primary reading device globally over the next decade," but it feels "this is best seized by taking on new opportunities to fully realize our vision for e-books." Those new opportunities will apparently be at Google, which has hired Oyster's CEO, co-founders, and other team members for Google Play Books, reports Re/code.

Sources say Google has paid off Oyster investors in what Re/code dubs an "acqhire." Where did it go wrong for Oyster? Consumers stayed away "because binge-reading is more difficult than binge-watching movies," and it didn't help that the service couldn't be accessed on Amazon's Kindle readers, writes Steven Musil at CNET. The company ended up in direct competition with Amazon after it added e-book sales to its subscription service, he notes. People seeking an all-you-can-read service still have the option of Amazon's Kindle Unlimited service (which was introduced the year after Oyster made its debut) or, as this columnist notes, libraries. (Read more e-books stories.)

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