Oyster CEO Eric Stromberg On Leading The Ebook Subscription Space
Today Oyster, the ebook subscription service that launched last year with 100,000 titles, announced that it has topped the 500,000-title mark. "This is the culmination of a lot of content acquisition that we've been doing over the last six months," says co-founder and CEO Eric Stromberg. Among those acquisitions are John Wiley & Son's For Dummies series, McSweeney's Time Out Guides, and Chronicle's Grumpy Cat and Boo. All three publishers are new to Oyster.
Another major contributor to Oyster's rapid growth is HarperCollins, the first and only of the Big Five publishers to sign on with the subscription service. The publisher expanded its partnership with Oyster, adding over 10,000 new titles.
With their expanded library, Oyster has taken the lead among ebook subscription services. Its major competitors Scribd and Entitle offer 300,000 titles and 125,000 titles respectively.
Stromberg attributes this rapid growth to publishers' desire to put more of their books in front of readers. "Oyster is very focused on discovery," says Stromberg, "A lot of our readers find the books through browsing and personalization of search, and that is really exciting for publishers." Stromberg emphasized that much of Oyster's time and energy has going into crafting the site's personal recommendation technology so that the right titles are being offered to the right readers.
In a recent interview with Book Business, Chantal Restivo-Alessi, commented that making much of HarperCollin's backlist available has significantly improved discoverability. "It offers additional opportunities to provide visibility to the content and therefore transform that visibility into sales," said Restivo-Alessi.
Stromberg also thinks that Oyster can attract a different kind of reader for publishers, one that is younger and more mobile-savvy. "This is a younger audience that loves to read on their phone, read on their tablet, and maybe uses different types of subscription services for other forms of media." Many of these readers, Stromberg intimated, may not engage with a publisher's book unless it is on Oyster.
Ellen Harvey is a freelance writer and editor who covers the latest technologies and strategies reshaping the publishing landscape. She previously served as the Senior Editor at Publishing Executive and Book Business.