Oyster's Matthew Shatz on Helping Publishers Tap Next Generation of Readers
Today readers want more than digital content, argues Matthew Shatz, head of strategy and partnerships at Oyster. They want access. The proof of that, he says, is in the rapid rise of access models like Netflix and Spotify. Though these companies do not always have gleaming reputations in their industries -- Spotify has been largely criticized for accruing cents for non-mainstream artists -- their popularity among users can't be denied.
Founded in 2012, Oyster set out to create an access model for the book industry, providing complete, digital access to its titles for under $10 a month. As of July 2014 the company boasts the largest consumer ebook library, with over 500,000 titles from approximately 1,600 publishing partners. Scribd, Oyster's foremost competitor, mirrors Oyster's sales model, granting access to unlimited ebooks for $8.99 per month. Scribd is also striving to close the gap in titles with over 400,000 ebooks in its library. Both platforms are significantly bolstered by partnerships with Big Five publishers HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster, the latter of which signed on in May, bringing over 10,000 of its titles to Oyster and Scribd. As the arms race between these two services heightens, not to mention Amazon's recent launch of the Kindle Unlimted subscription service, Shatz's role is increasingly vital to Oyster's success.
Shatz, the lead on many of Oyster's new partnerships, is a veteran of the publishing industry. He headed Random House's digital strategy from 2005 to 2010, overseeing the company's rapid expansion into ebooks. Since joining Oyster in 2013, Shatz has worked tirelessly to move publisher relations forward. Not only has Shatz signed on new publishers like Simon & Schuster and Disney Publishing, but he has partnered with consumer-facing companies, such as The Oprah Magazine, to get the word out to potential subscribers.
Below Shatz discusses why adopting access models like Oyster should be an imperative for publishers and how the next generation of readers is changing the book game.