Ebook subscription service Oyster launches two new programs today–one to improve what happens behind the scenes, the other geared specifically to readers.
Oyster’s new Author Advisory Board invites top authors to weigh in on how Oyster does business. According to an Oyster spokesperson, board members “will provide input and feedback on product and content decisions at Oyster to help ensure that streaming services for books are mutually beneficial to writers, readers, and publishers for a long time to come.”
Many within the digital publishing community still cast doubt on the long-term viability of the subscription model. With the launch of its Author Advisory Board, Oyster appears to be addressing a public relations issue inside the industry, by helping it make the case that authors’ voices are being heard, and their interests well served, by the subscription model for ebooks.
While Oyster intends the Advisory Board to provide valuable input, it sees the group’s role (per its name) as strictly advisory. Advisory Board authors will not gain regular access to data, for example, in order to help inform their contributions, even though, according to Oyster’s Editorial Director Kevin Nguyen, the company will occasionally “share relevant analysis with the Board on a case-by-case basis, when it informs the discussion we’re having with them about the reader’s experience on Oyster.”
At launch, authors Roxane Gay, Megan Abbott and Lauren Oliver sit on the Advisory Board, with plans to expand that roster over time. Authors are not compensated for joining the board.
The second program finds Oyster taking its discovery efforts to the web, with the launch of a digital magazine called The Oyster Review. The publication is freely available online, including to those who don’t subscribe to Oyster’s ebook platform, and will feature original writing related to ebooks featured in Oyster’s catalog, much of it by other authors.
Oyster subscribers won’t have access to exclusive additional content, but Nguyen explains they’ll “have the unique ability to easily jump in to books on The Oyster Review and start reading.”
The Oyster Review represents a continuation of Oyster’s efforts at greater editorial curation in the push to improve discovery. “From our perspective,” Nguyen said, “the future of content discovery is a combination of editorial and personalized features. The Oyster Review is our home for editorial discovery.”
Earlier this month Oyster launched a “Book Lists” feature allowing users to share personalized lists of their favorite ebooks with one another both inside Oyster’s e-reading platform and outside of it, on social media.
Nguyen added, “We are committed to being the place where readers go to talk about, discover, and ultimately read great books.”
Related: Oyster’s Chief Revenue Officer Matt Shatz to Discuss Subscription Ebooks and Discovery Challenges at Digital Book World 2015