Oyster is shutting down and most of its staff’s leaving to join Google Play Books:
According to a report on the tech news site Re/Code, most of the Oyster staff, including CEO Eric Stromberg and Oyster cofounders Andrew Brown and Willem Van Lancker, are leaving the company to join Google Play Books. Re/Code called the deal an “acqhire,” noting that while Google has agreed to pay Oyster investors for the right to hire away most of the Oyster staff, it is unclear whether Google is actually buying the company.
While it is also unclear whether Google Books plans its own e-book subscription service, this wouldn’t be the first time the tech giant acquired a startup venture in order to turn it into a Google business. Re/Code pointed to Google’s July acquisition of Homejoy, a service to connect consumers with professional cleaners, which is in the process of being relaunched as a similar service under Google.
Oyster touted a Netflix-style subscription service for ebooks, offering unlimited access to a million titles for $9.95 a month.
Publishers Weekly’s calls to Oyster for comment “have yet to be returned” at this time.
Aside from Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited service… Scribd is now the one remaining standalone e-book service, according to Publishers Weekly. Kindle Unlimited is unlikely to go anywhere soon given its parent company.
The closure of Oyster is very unfortunate news for readers and authors… and, self-published authors, too, because it was another avenue to get your works seen. Self-pub authors could get their releases into Oyster through aggregation services like Smashwords and Bookbaby. Scribd is similar to Oyster because it lets authors make their books available there through aggregation services.
If you’re a self-published author, make sure to stay informed and read Kboards’ thread discussing this news.