Ebook Subscription Service Oyster Closing Shop

In News by Dennis Abrams

Oyster, one of the first and most prominent ebook subscription services, is shutting down, with much of its team moving on to Google Play Books.

By Dennis Abrams

Oyster EbooksAt Re/code, Peter Kafka and Mark Bergen report that Oyster, the company that offered a book subscription service a la Netflix, “is shutting down.”

And most intriguingly, “most of its team is heading over to Google.”

Oyster’s founders said in a blog post on Monday that they were “taking steps to sunset” service:

“As we continue on, we couldn’t be more excited about the future of ebooks 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. Looking forward, we feel this is best seized by taking on new opportunities to fully realize our vision for eBooks.”

Note the “as we continue on.” Recode reports that “a portion” of Oyster’s team has already joined Google Play Books, and that CEO Eric Stromberg and co-founders Andrew Brown and Willem Van Lancker “are part of the team joining Google.”

Kafka and Bergen wrote:

“Google is resistant to the notion that it bought Oyster. But sources said it will end up paying investors, who put a reported $17 million into the company, for the right to hire some of its staff. In other words, this is an acquisition.”

Fortune is reporting that Google “has also acquired, or at least signed a perpetual license (sources differ on this), for some of Oyster’s core IP assets. Moreover, most of the 27-person Oyster team will be working out of a Google Books development center in New York.”

This move, according to Fortune, is “part of Google’s latest push into content … It’s unclear if this new Google Books iteration will channel Amazon’s e-book business, which includes a subscription component similar to Oyster’s.”

It has been reported that Oyster’s contracts with book publishers “are not part of the Google deal.”

About the Author

Dennis Abrams

Dennis Abrams is a contributing editor for Publishing Perspectives, responsible for news, children's publishing and media. He's also a restaurant critic, literary blogger, and the author of "The Play's The Thing," a complete YA guide to the plays of William Shakespeare published by Pentian, as well as more than 30 YA biographies and histories for Chelsea House publishers.