If you're a fan of subscription book lending services, Oyster has a treat for you. The company, which boasts a 500,000 title library, is now coming out with a Book Lists feature that lets members create, read, and share their own digital bookshelves full of prospective titles. Cheers to that!
The move comes at a time when the books subscription service market is growing increasingly crowded; Oyster now has to contend with competition from companies like Scribd and Amazon's Kindle Unlimited — though it's worth noting that Kindle Unlimited still doesn't seem to be stocking any titles from any of the Big Five publishers, severely limiting its selection. I guess it doesn't always pay to be Amazon.
Especially not on days when Oyster announces that they're coming out with new features. While all of the books subscription services are often referred to as the "Netflix of books" Oyster is billing its new features as being more akin to personalized Spotify playlists. Members can create lists of favorite titles or books they plan to read, and can view the lists of their friends and of authors on the site. And if you see a title you like on someone's list, you can start reading it right away!
Oyster in general seems to to be pretty on top of the ball when it comes to innovation in the books subscription business. After all, they were also the first company of their kind to create an all-you-can-read phone app. The company states that the new list feature is all part of their commitment to helping readers discover new titles and facilitate recommendations among members.
And it seems that authors are already getting in on the fun, creating lists for our browsing pleasure.
Of course, it should also be pointed out that if your local library is one of the many, many libraries that lends e-books over the Internet for free, an e-book subscription service is still unnecessary. And the New York Public Library even does recommendations of their own now.
Still, as far as I know there aren't libraries that offer you the chance to create and share book lists. The new move suggests that Oyster is looking to capitalize on the potential social aspects of their service, rather than the simple book lending, which is smart. After all, most libraries let you borrow e-books, and Goodreads acts as a social media site for book lovers — both for free — but as far as I know, no company fully combines the two. Letting subscribers not only borrow books but also engage in books-focused social media might be the thing Oyster needs to set their service apart from other companies and from libraries.
So will this be the future of book reading? Only time will tell.
Image: Sebastien Wiertz/flickr