Whether its reading books or playing music, everything happens on the web. If taken a look at the numbers, according to the estimates by LA Times, ebook sales generates a revenue of $3 billion in 2012 in US which is supposedly a 44% jump from its previous year. While US saw a hike of 44%, in UK witnessed a jump of 134% from 2011-12. However, in 2013, US saw just 5% growth in its first quarter. However, the end conclusion can be drawn that ebooks are becoming more and more viral with passing days. At this juncture, NYC Based startup Oysterbooks has everything to be the Netflix for ebooks. With a monthly fee of $9.95 subscribers can get access to almost 100,000 ebooks on their iPhones by requesting for invitation.
No more thinking about spending $12.99 on a single book, Oysterbooks gives you the deal to get access to over 100,000 titles at just $9.95 per month. Recently, StartupsFM team got to know more about Oysterbooks from their founders Eric Stomberg and Willem Van Lancker. Another co-founder is Andrew Brown. Here’s a snippet of it:
SFM: How was the experience of making “the world’s mine oyster” transform from a famous literary line into such a massively popular mobile bookstore?
Eric Stromberg: It’s been an incredibly exciting experience. We’ve been working on Oyster for over a year now, so it’s been fantastic to see a great response from users only a few weeks after our official launch. We wanted to make sure that Oyster consistently delivers the best product possible, so we started by building a core team with expertise in technology, business and product design. This has been instrumental in getting us to where we are today and to reach our goal which is to continuously inspire discovery of books on a variety of mobile devices.
SFM: All over the web, Oyster has been acclaimed as the “NetFlix of books”. What is your say on this?
Willem Van Lancker: Oyster brings the access model to books, just like Netflix does for movies. When you pay once and have unlimited access, you spend less time deciding what to read, and more time reading because the barrier to starting a new book is so low. You no longer have to make a purchase decision each time you want to read.
A big point of differentiation, however, is the number of unique social features around discovery that we are just scratching the surface on with Oyster. We’re looking forward to continually developing the social side of Oyster as a core part of the product.
SFM: How did you scale up the entire concept? We would love to know how you got your first few readers onboard?
Willem Van Lancker: Before our official launch, we were in beta with 100 or so users. Beta allowed us to understand how users were interacting with the app and what their reading habits within Oyster looked like. With an invite-only launch, we’re able to ensure Oyster is seamless and delivers on users’ expectations. We’re taking time now to monitor the user experience and address any complications before making Oyster fully public.
SFM: What were some of the initial barriers that you had faced? Did you have this same pricing plan ($ 9.95 a month) right from the beginning?
Eric Stromberg: From the start, we wanted to ensure that we were putting together a model that was attractive to all stakeholders – that meant meeting with hundreds of publishers, authors, and agents. From this, we built a model that valued publishers and authors, is viable over time and maintains a fair price for our users. Establishing this model was our first priority.
SFM: How did you manage to get so many books onboard? That’s spectacular! Would love to know.
Eric Stromberg: Part of the appeal of Oyster to publishers is that an unlimited access model can bring in a new audience for their books. Even in our first week, we’ve heard readers tell us that Oyster has made them fall back in love with reading – bringing them back into books. This is exciting for both Oyster and publishers. We’re really excited to be working with hundreds of publishers from day one – from small independent houses to big six. Our goal is to add new titles to our library regularly and continuously grow our content offering.