Emboldened, Oyster Looks Ahead at Explorers Club Party

Guests of the ebook subscription service Oyster at a cocktail party held at The Explorers Club in New York City (photo by Kate Welsh).

Even as guests began arriving last night at the stone mansion on East 70th Street where The Explorers Club makes its New York City headquarters, for a cocktail party hosted by ebook subscription service Oyster, it wasn’t quite clear what they were they were there to celebrate.

Osyter did recently completed a $14 million round of fundraising, but that didn’t seem to be the reason for the soirée; the timing wasn’t right.

Some milled around the open bar on the second floor where a jazz band was playing, puzzling over handsomely illustrated guides to the Club’s remarkable collection—which boasts a taxidermy polar bear standing on its hind legs, an Emperor penguin doing the same (rather less impressively) and equipment from landmark expeditions to the Poles (North and South), Everest and the moon.

“Have you figured it out yet?” Benjamin Samuel, coeditor of Electric Literature, leaned over to ask, referring to the party’s heretofore unknown occasion, as I unfolded the guide. I hadn’t. Part of me was hoping to set off on a scavenger hunt. But as Kate Brown, digital content supply chain manager at Hachette, pointed out later, its real value was in the code for a free Oyster subscription printed at the bottom.

Oyster's guide to The Explorers Club (photo by Jason Polan).

Oyster’s guide to The Explorers Club (photo by Jason Polan).

Fortunately, Oyster and The Explorers Club anticipated their guests’ curiosity. Around 9:30, the Club’s executive director, Will Roseman, embarked on a tour of the premises, stopping to point out Teddy Roosevelt’s favored sleeping quarters, a long table where the Panama Canal was planned and a canvas swatch from Amelia Earhart’s plane, as he detailed the organization’s illustrious 110-year history.

It was a sharp reminder of digital publishing’s comparatively short history, and ebook subscription services’ even shorter one.

That wasn’t lost on Eric Stromberg, Oyster’s cofounder and CEO. Asked about the reason for the party, he explained, “We’re celebrating six months of Oyster with the publishers, authors and people who made this all possible. Oyster is all about exploring new worlds and perspectives through books, and The Explorers Club is the perfect venue to capture that spirit.”

It wasn’t difficult to raise a glass to that: Drinks were being poured into tumblers printed with Oyster’s logo. Unlike the stuffed megafauna, they were free to take home.

Photo credit: Alena Jaffe

 

The Explorers Club fauna:

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Photo credit: Kate Childs

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Photo credit: Cameron Lewin

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Photo credit: Cameron Lewin

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Photo credit: Rich Bellis

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About Rich Bellis

Rich Bellis is a senior editor at Digital Book World. He has a background in print and digital book production and has held positions at Hachette and Macmillan. He has also written for The Atlantic, World Policy, The Awl and other publications.

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