Oyster: Netflix for Books

When I was younger, I used to burn through books like it was my job. Although Mom was ultimately thrilled that one of her kids enjoyed reading, the amount of books that were needed to keep me busy cost a lot of money and took up a lot of space in the house. Once my own bookshelves were filled, I started having stray stacks in my room, then gradually throughout the house. I haven’t entirely relinquished my affinity for print, but getting a Kindle at least made saving space possible.

Recently, my reading experience (and maybe yours, too) just improved tenfold. I learned about a little thing called Oyster (named after one of Shakespeare’s famous lines- “the world is mine oyster”), an app that allows you to stream an unlimited amount of books each month for $9.95. Last week, I signed up for a free, 14 day trial. Minus the little glitch with the recent power outage, using Oyster has been not only fun, but easy.


Books as far as the eye can see.

When I try to conceptualize how many titles Oyster offers, I picture the library in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. There are books everywhere, as far as the eye can see, and they’re all yours if you want them. It’s exciting stuff. The first book I downloaded was Children Playing Before a Statue of Hercules by David Sedaris. Then I went a little download-happy, and have a ton of books to look forward to in the next 9-ish days.

How does it work? Just like Netflix, you stream the material online through the app. So, you can’t download it and keep it forever, but as long as the app is on your device and you’re a paying customer, you can access the book if you need/want. Also much like Netflix, Oyster updates it’s content frequently enough that it doesn’t get stale.

My fun reading for the week

My fun reading for the week

It’s easy to access.

The website is user-friendly and easy to navigate, so you can feel comfortable recommending it to your great-aunt who accidentally posts status updates instead of sending private messages on Facebook. Plus, it’s not exclusive to any one device. You can access it on your computer, on your Apple products, Android devices, or Google Play. Just remember your username and password, and login from wherever!

Encourages diversity in reading.

There are many topics that I’m curious about, and my first instinct is to do some reading and learn more about them. However, when I want to get a book on Amazon about, say, political influence on the arts, 9 times out of 10 I promptly lose interest in the pursuit of knowledge when I see the price tag. With something like Oyster, I can get all kinds of new information for about $10 a month, which for me is more appealing than binge-watching Arrested Development on Netflix (mainly because I’m all caught up).

With the vast spectrum of genres and authors, there’s a potential to explore not only what you enjoy reading, but subjects you are vaguely intrigued by or passionately curious about. Oyster also has children’s books, so you can share the love with the kiddos.

You can give it as a gift.

If you know someone who would love to try something like Oyster out, you can buy them a subscription. All you need is their e-mail and some cash. There are different options, if you want to just give them one month versus one year. My Christmas shopping just became remarkably simple. Another incentive for gift giving: for every gift subscription purchased, 10% of the proceeds go to a literacy-based charity.


You can share with friends.

I haven’t explored this option yet, but when you sign in to Oyster, you automatically have a profile. It displays your reading list, and you can add a picture and mini-biography if so inclined. If you have friends using it, you can all share what you’re reading. Reading, while a fun solo adventure, is also a fun when it’s social. That’s why book clubs exist.

Oyster is fun.

In addition to what’s listed above, the founders of Oyster have created a website with a bit of fun pizzazz. At the bottom of the About page, there is an animated text area that says “You might enjoy Oyster if…” followed by a changing list of answers (including “you have dated or dumped someone because of their taste in books”).

In the list of Genres, there is a section called Famous Reading Lists. This showcases what books certain famous people have read, such as Steve Jobs,J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, Junot Diaz, Margot Tenenbaum, and Lisa Simpson. These folks have a sense of humor, and that’s the sort of crew I feel good about giving my money.

Oyster is cool, but don’t take my word for it. Check out the 14 day trial- it’s free, and you just might get hooked.

Kassandra Strout
Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

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