Ebook subscription service Oyster introduces “Book Lists,” allowing users to recommend and share personalized collections of titles.
The feature offers a rough equivalent to the experience of creating and sharing a playlist on a music streaming platform like Spotify, and it’s likewise aimed at boosting discoverability.
Book Lists are now available to all Oyster subscribers at no additional cost, accessible through each user’s profile page. Readers can create lists of any length and share them selectively with other Oyster subscribers as well as on social media channels outside the e-reading platform.
User generated recommendations brings Oyster readers a third way to discover new titles, in addition to the platform’s built-in recommendation system–which is driven by both an editorial team and an algorithm–and by browsing freely in Oyster’s 500,000 title catalog.
The new feature arrives at a time when ebook subscription services are fine-tuning their discovery mechanisms and billing them as key selling points for readers. Entitle, another subscription ebook provider (which does not offer unlimited access), recently upgraded its recommendation system to improve how users discover new content.
For other ebook subscription services, the quest for improved discoverability rests on social features that both personalize the e-reading experience and connect readers with one another to trade ideas about what they read.
Simon Dunlop, co-founder of Bookmate, said recently he believes the subscription model “does not seem viable” on its own without the addition of social features that characterize other forms of media consumption. Citing a recent study in an essay for ITProPortal, Dunlop suggested that “a friend’s recommendation on social media is the most influential factor when buying software or ebooks.”
Oyster appears to agree in the rising importance of the social dimension. Introducing Book Lists today, Oyster adds that “a book recommendation is more than a casual suggestion. It’s a personal invitation—from one person to another—to share knowledge, stories, and experiences.”
For Oyster, that personal intimacy can also help connect readers with authors and public figures. Oyster is rolling out the Book Lists feature with lists curated by top authors like Michael Chabon and Doris Kearns Goodwin.
Related: Oyster’s Head of Strategy and Partnerships Matt Shatz Joins Bookmate Co-Founder Simon Dunlop to Discuss Subscription Ebooks and Global Publishing at Digital Book World 2015