Monday, July 13, 2015

Why I don't dig Oyster ebook subscription

I heard of Oyster ebook subscription service long ago, but from what I could tell, it wasn't exactly the the "Netflix of books" it claimed. Yet curiosity got the better of me when I found a summer deal offering three months for .99, so I pounced. And basically wasted a buck (well, maybe not wasted, since it taught me I no longer needed to wonder whether I'd enjoy Oyster).

Before I popped on the offer, I searched Oyster for books I wanted which weren't already available from Overdrive at my local library (I prefer checking out ebooks -- I've gotten to the point where I like reading them better than physical books, and they're more convenient to get from the library). Oyster had every title I wanted, but they were only marked with a purchase price. I assumed that once I was logged in as a member, these books would be included to read for free. Haha. Hahaha. Silly me. Of course they weren't.

Signed into my active membership and poorer by .99, I found that not one of the books I wanted that wasn't available at my library was included in Oyster Unlimited. What's more, the week since I've signed up, those books I sought popped up among the new offerings at my library, yet still are only available to purchase from Oyster. From what I can tell, Oyster has nothing to entice me.

I tried to imagine who would benefit from Oyster, and for the life of me I can't figure it out. Maybe if someone didn't have a local library with ebook offerings? I would think most libraries do at this point, but perhaps there's a holdout here and there?

I tried to think of arguments as to why Oyster was worth paying for, and none really made sense. For instance, what if you say you prefer Oyster because you can keep the book as long as you want, and with the library the loan expires in one or two weeks. But the fact is, as more than one librarian has told me, if you're not quite done with a book you can just turn off the wifi on your ereader and keep the book as long as you need it. This doesn't prevent someone else from checking out the book, either, as the license goes back to being available when your loan term is up. But if your wifi is off, you device doesn't know time is up.

What's more, if you're not reading a high volume of books, why pay $9.95 a month? If it takes you nearly a month or more to finish a book, why not just buy the book? No need to borrow it for the same amount or more that you could've owned it for. Conversely, if you get through a lot of books, you'll be able to finish them before they come due at the library (even if you didn't know about the wifi trick, but now that you do, needing an extra few days to finish isn't an issue).

Topping it off, I found the ebook selection to be impressively better from my library's digital loan service than what Oyster has to offer. All in all, I'd suggest giving Oyster a pass. But, if you're still tempted to try it out, go for that .99 three-month trial I mentioned. The normal trial period is just 14 days, and while I realized it wasn't for me the first day, you may want more time to take it for a spin.

Have you tried Oyster? What did you think? Just because I didn't dig it doesn't mean others don't love it, so please share your experience!

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