Oyster – Will you be cultivating pearls?

You may have heard by now that Smashwords is partnering with the new eBook subscription service, Oyster. Although details of what authors will be paid have not yet been released, it seems that Oyster will be offering unlimited access to all the books in their service for a subscription of $9.99, but that participants will only be able to access those books while still subscribing to the service. It also looks like it will only be available for Apple devices for the foreseeable future (and only in the States).

Many people seem to be unhappy about the way this service works. They are assuming that royalties will be poor, for a start. However, is it really that much removed from what Amazon already provides with the combination of free borrows when you’re in Amazon Prime and free days when you’re in KDP Select? Yes, there may be an initial flurry of people downloading more books than they can possibly read – much like the freebies on Kindle – and the royalties may be less than you would get for a full-price book – as with Amazon Prime – but I’m sure that after a few months things will settle down.

I think this service will ultimately be akin to the physical library, where you get Public Lending Rights for each book borrowed. It won’t be all that much in monetary terms, but it will be better than getting nothing at all.

Then, of course, there’s always the scenario where someone can no longer afford to subscribe to the service, but they really want to keep a copy of your book. What will they do? Go and buy it through normal channels, of course.


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