Oyster to shut down

Oyster to shut down

E-book subscription service Oyster will close in early 2016.

The US-based company began only two years ago but attracted partnerships with major publishers such as HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster and Bloomsbury, which listed titles on the $9.95 a month all-you-can-read service.

The company’s founders Eric Stromberg, Andrew Brown, and Willem Van Lancker gave little explanation for Oyster’s closure on their blog, but hinted they would be back with a new venture soon.

“Oyster launched two years ago with a simple idea to build a better way to read on mobile,” the founders wrote.

“We’ve made incredible progress towards that goal…Through it all, our mission has remained the same: connect readers with books they’ll love. Looking forward, we feel this is best seized by taking on new opportunities to fully realize our vision for e-books.”

They added: “With that, we will be taking steps to sunset the existing Oyster service over the next several months… As we continue on, we couldn’t be more excited about the future of e-books 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. We look forward to sharing more details soon.”

Meanwhile, tech website Re/code has reported that Stromberg, Brown and Van Lancker have been hired by Google, to work on Google Books, although Oyster has not confirmed this. 

In January this year, the start-up raised $17m in funding in a deal with Highland Capital Partners.

In a report released by Enders Analysis in July, the analysts said publishers weren't supporting subscription platforms by enlisting their titles in them.

"In the abstract, a subscription model for e-books is not hugely compelling for many readers: the catalogues are limited, and most people don’t read enough to make the convenience of having access to huge numbers of books useful, or an all-you-can-eat subscription cost-effective,” the company said.

Oyster's two main competitors are Scribd and Amazon's Kindle Unlimited service, which launched in the UK last September.