Have you used Oyster?

Oyster advertises itself as “Netflix for books.” That has always made me ragey.

“THE LIBRARY IS FREE NETFLIX FOR BOOKS!!!” I scream at my screen.

Generally, Oyster costs $9.95 a month for access to as many ebooks as you want to read. I wasn’t interested. However, they are having a summer special for 3 months for 99 cents. I decided to try it.

The Selection

They claim to have millions of books. The FAQs say they have “virtually every book” so I had to test that.

So far they haven’t had any book that I’ve searched for.

I’ve looked for the obscure like translated fiction and new releases like Loving Day and sci fi authors like N.K. Jemisin.  No on all of them and many more.   On the other hand, every time I’ve done a search it has recommended a book with a title close to what I wanted that I ended up being interested in.

Not every book is available to read with the subscription either. Some are purchase only. So my “unlimited subscription” has some limits.

Where It Is Better Than The Library

If they have the book, then you can read it. There is no waiting list. There is no time limit when your loan expires. Whenever I use my library’s ebook reader, everything always has long waits. Oyster is great for mood readers.

Where It Is Worse Than The Library

Is it worth $9.95 a month? I’m not sure. If I wasn’t a heavy library user with a great library system available, it might be. I’m pretty cheap though. I’m not sure yet if I would keep it after the 3 month trial.

The Reading Experience

I’m reading on the iPad app.  It is similar to reading on my Kindle app.  There is one weird formatting thing that may not matter to most people.  You can’t see the cover art in the app and the copyright page is moved to the end of the book.

If you would want to take a picture of the cover for Instagram, for example, you can’t.  The cover isn’t there. You can see it on your reading list but not full size when reading.  Weird.

One of my reading quirks is needing to know when a book was published. That gives me context especially with nonfiction or memoirs but it is nice to know if fiction is moving out of contemporary into historical.  On this app you have to look for that page at the end of the book.


The first book I read on Oyster was:

Desert Flower: The Extraordinary Journey of a Desert NomadDesert Flower: The Extraordinary Journey of a Desert Nomad by Waris Dirie

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Waris Dirie was born into a nomadic family in Somalia.  She fled to Mogadishu as a teenager to escape an arranged marriage to an elderly man. She worked for relatives as a house cleaner and eventually went to London with an uncle who was the Ambassador to England.  While there she was discovered by photographers and became a model.

She loved her life in the desert but wanted more than being the teenage bride of an old man.  One of the defining moments of her life was going through female genital mutilation at the age of five.  After becoming a model she started to devote her life to publicizing the issue  and educating people in areas where it is traditional.