We’re excited to share a little bit more about Oyster.
We are building the best way to read books on your phone. Members will receive unlimited access to an ever-growing collection of books for a single monthly price.
When we started working this summer, we were inspired by the belief that the transformation from the print book to digital is still in its earliest phase. We knew it was important to find partners who feel the same way and believe in our vision as much as we do.
We’re thrilled to welcome Founders Fund as the lead investor in our first round of financing, joined by a group of leaders from technology, media, and books. This is not cause for celebration in itself, but rather ensures we will have the opportunity to build a company that accomplishes what a few months ago only existed as sketches on a whiteboard and notebooks full of ideas.
While we aren’t ready to share the product just yet, we do want to give a sense of what’s to come. At Oyster, we think deeply about the future of long-form narrative. Looking forward, three key themes stand out to us as important to our company as well as the future of ebooks:
When you pay once each month and can read as many books as you’d like, you think about what to read, not what to buy. The distinction is subtle, but important. It’s the reason that bookstores and libraries have a natural appeal— a world of books waiting to be picked up.
Today, book buying revolves around transaction, not purely on finding great books. Transaction is important, because authors deserve to be paid for their works. But authors also deserve to have their books treated in a way that reflects the care they put into their writing. Currently, people buy books online in the exact same way that they buy lamps, blenders, and kitchen knives. The process of finding your next book is very different from purchasing a knife, and it should be treated that way.
By moving from individual transactions to an access-based model, readers can explore and enjoy books freely; more like your corner bookstore than a big box retailer. This leads to a more fulfilling experience built exclusively on taste and relaxed reading.
Readers often find their best book recommendations when they aren’t even looking for them. Maybe you’re at lunch with a friend who brings up the new book that you just can’t miss, and reading it sets you on a new path. Or you read about the books that influenced your favorite designer or writer. These recommendations come from nearly everywhere: friends, television shows, thought leaders, and algorithms.
But this process can be cumbersome and difficult, requiring you to jump between multiple applications and devices. The best products tend to pair discovery with consumption such that the user doesn’t perceive them as disparate activities— enabling a complete consumption experience. With Oyster, we’re bringing this to books.
When everyone has access to the same library, you can share and curate with confidence. Friends can read the same book in one click, without having to make an additional purchase or hunt for a link to buy it.
We’ve heard a common theme from both avid and casual readers— they love reading on smartphones. Phones are with them everywhere they go and are the perfect reading device for those in-between moments in their lives. But today’s book reading products were never envisioned with phones in mind— they are incomplete and shrunken copies of their tablet counterparts.
We’re building Oyster as an end-to-end product created specifically for mobile. Everything from recommendations to the in-book experience allows you to easily reach for books at moments of impulse throughout your day— whether on the subway, waiting for a friend to meet you for coffee, or while relaxing in the park.
We are building Oyster for an audience that aspires to read more. Read all the books you wish you’d read. We hope to bring books to the center of people’s lives through a beautiful product and the feeling that the world is your oyster.
— Eric, Andrew, & Willem
October 10, 2012