The Latest In E-Booklandia

Well… not really the latest. I’m months behind on all developments, but at least I’m catching up. Somewhat. 😉

Out of all the news items from the past weeks or so, five got my full attention. I’m interested in trying them out — or talking to someone who already has.

This is what Oyster looks like on an iDevice. Photo from Oyster’s About page (media resources)

First on my list is Oyster. This new service, called the “Netflix for books“, gives subscribers “unlimited access to over 100,000 books for US$9.95 a month, with new titles added all the time.” Right now it’s just for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch users, so I can use it on at least one device. Membership was also by invitation at launch time, but now accepts sign-ups and provides 30 days of free usage.

An estimated PhP430-PhP450 per month for that many e-books from major publishing houses and self-publishing player Smashwords? Holy shit. A single new title from major book chains here in Manila often costs more than that converted amount, so initially, it sounded real good to me.

The recommendation/online socials part also gets two thumbs up; it reminds me a bit of Shelfari and Goodreads. It’s also a great way to discover new titles and explore these without leaving the service/app.

Publishers can also make their work available on Oyster; check out the service’s dedicated FAQ page.

After a few days, my very rare logical side spoke up. Now I think it’s worth the expense only if I have the time to read a trove of books in a given month — and I can confidently tell you that I don’t, and won’t in the foreseeable and semi-distant future. And it may be too much to ask right now, given the tendency of companies/developers to create apps and services for the iCrowd first, but I wish it could be used with my Android phone, too. I do love the “all-in-one” or subscription approach and the app design, though.


Users have no permanent access to books when they stop subscribing.

Reminds me of Amazon, this Los Angeles Times article, and many others on the issue of DRM and e-book ownership. Basically, you only rent e-books with Oyster. You won’t own the books you read.

One more thing: I live in the Philippines. Until Oyster provides worldwide access, I won’t be able to even try it out. Bummer.

If you live in the US of A, and want to give Oyster a whirl, go to and sign up.

But huwaiiiiit! Oyster got a competitor a mere month after it was launched. First saw at PandoDaily: Scribd is ready to tussle.

Uh-huh. Game on! Downloaded from Reaction GIFs.

Like Oyster, Scribd is now in the e-book subscriptions game. It also has a vast rental e-book selection, provides a free trial period, and lets users make recommendations for their friends. It doesn’t say how many books it currently has on offer, but looking at both the PandoDaily article and the dedicated site on Scribd, Scribd already trumps Oyster in several aspects:

  • Anyone in the world can use it
  • It welcomes self-published work, and not only from popular self-publishing platforms
  • It works on both iDevices and Android devices
  • It charges readers US$8.99/month — for many folks, a dollar’s still a dollar. In my case, that’s PhP43. May mabibili ka rin sa 43 pesos, no.

Oh, it’s so on.

Sign up/Subscribe at, and/or check out what books you’ll have access to at

If you’ve been using Amazon to order print books since 1995 — and want a free or low-priced e-book copy of your book purchases, you’re in luck. Amazon announced last month a new service called Kindle MatchBook, with more than 10,000 titles available by October… errr, this month.

This part of the press release appealed to the book hoarder in me:

With Kindle MatchBook, they can keep their favorite book on their shelf, and have a copy in their digital library for reading, perhaps re-reading it with features like X-Ray and Popular Highlights.

Am also thinking this would be great for those who want duplicate copies of their titles, lent out their books and never got it back, or lost their books in undesirable circumstances (e.g., theft, fire, etc.). Publishers can also make their titles available on Kindle Matchbook via

(Next Page: NBS/Kobo, and Google Books)

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