Would you use an e-book version of Netflix?

would you use an ebook version of netflix oysterBy now, we’re used to the subscription streaming model for both visual and audio entertainment, with Netflix, Amazon Prime, Spotify, Pandora et al having convinced us that we don’t really need to own media anymore as long as we have a strong wifi connection and the right kind of device in order to enjoy it wherever and whenever we want. But how far will this thinking stretch, exactly? Could you see yourself signing up for a monthly subscription to an ebook library?

It’s an interesting question. After all, prose books aren’t exactly the same kind of “passive” media as music, or even movies or television; you rarely (if ever) hear of someone reading a book in the background while engaged in other activities in the same way that they might listen to music or even half-pay attention to whatever’s on the television in the room, for example. Reading a book requires a commitment that changes our relationship with the media, and may mean that readers are more likely to purchase their ebooks rather than rent them. Not that there’s not a long history of “renting” books, which is another potential bump in the road for the paid subscription model for ebooks: There’s such a thing as your local library, which does much the same thing, but for free (There is also Amazon’s Kindle Lending Library, which is free for Amazon Prime subscribers, of course).

None of this has scared off the Oyster start-up, however.

The New York-based company is the brainchild of Eric Stromberg, Andrew Brown and Willem Van Lancker, who collectively wrote in a debut blog post that the company was “inspired by the belief that the transformation from the print book to digital is still in its earliest phase,” and the result of thinking “deeply about the future of long-form narrative.” Aimed at, in their words, “an audience that aspires to read more,” the app will allow users to read as much as they want from “an ever-growing library of books” for a single monthly price.

The focus on smartphones means a reformatting of the books themselves, it seems. “Today’s book reading products were never envisioned with phones in mind – they are incomplete and shrunken copies of their tablet counterparts,” explains the blog post, adding that Oyster will be “an end-to-end product created specifically for mobile.” But that won’t be the only differentiator from print books or digital copies from other sources; Stromberg, Brown and Van Lancker explain that what may truly appeal to hardcore readers is Oyster’s superior discovery process. “Currently, people buy books online in the exact same way that they buy lamps, blenders and kitchen knives,” they explain. “The process of finding your next book is very different from purchasing a knife, and it should be treated that way.”

Oyster is currently in the process of signing up new investors as well as publishers and authors interested in adding their books to the company’s library. No launch date nor subscription cost has been revealed as yet.

Smart Home

This alarm clock uses targeted light and sound to wake you, but not your partner

The Wake v2 isn't like your typical bedside alarm. Instead, it wakes you by shining a soft light directly into your face, thereby not disturbing the person sharing a bed with you. Pretty smart, huh?
Home Theater

Google Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra: Everything you need to know

Google's Chromecast plugs into your TV's HDMI port, allowing you to stream content from your tablet, laptop, or smartphone directly to your TV. Here's what you need to know about all iterations, including the 4K-ready Chromecast Ultra.

Our favorite Windows apps will help you get the most out of your new PC

Not sure what apps you should be downloading for your newfangled Windows device? Here are the best Windows apps, whether you need something to speed up your machine or access your Netflix queue. Check out our categories and favorite picks.

These 100 best iPhone apps will turn your phone into a jack-of-all-trades

The iPhone is the most popular smartphone in the world, and we want to bring out the best in yours. Behold our comprehensive list of the best iPhone apps, from time-saving productivity tools to fun apps you won’t be able to put down.

Our favorite ebook reader is not a Kindle. Here are all the best options

If you're a bookworm, an ebook reader can be an important part of your life, one that allows you to read your books whenever and wherever you like. But which should you get? Here are five of the best ebook readers available.
Emerging Tech

Believe it or not, this fire-proof exoskeleton isn’t designed for space marines

A company called Levitate Technologies has developed a fire-resistant upper body exoskeleton that’s capable of lowering exertion levels by up to 80 percent when you carry out manual work.
Emerging Tech

Intel’s new ‘neural network on a stick’ aims to unchain A.I. from the internet

To kick off its first developer conference in Beijing, Intel unveiled the second generation of its Neural Compute Stick -- a device that promises to democratize the development of computer vision A.I. applications.
Emerging Tech

Frogs regrow ‘paddle-like’ limbs when placed in a bioreactor

Frogs have partially regrown amputated limbs thanks to a bioreactor at Tufts University. By jump-starting tissue repair, the bioreactor helped the amphibians regenerate a bigger, more complete appendages than they usually do.
Emerging Tech

Prepare for liftoff: Here are all the important upcoming SpaceX rocket launches

From ISS resupply missions to a host of communication and scientific satellite launches, SpaceX has a busy year ahead. Here's a rundown of some of the company's most important missions slated for the next year.
Emerging Tech

China says it has developed a quantum radar that can see stealth aircraft

Chinese defense giant China Electronics Technology Group Corporation claims that it has developed a quantum radar that's able to detect even the stealthiest of stealth aircraft. Here's how it works.
Emerging Tech

Glass orb packs all the constellations in the night sky into fancy desk ornament

Ever wanted to know more about the star constellations? A stunning new Kickstarter campaign, taking the form of a fancy desk ornament that re-creates the night sky in a glass orb, aims to help.
Emerging Tech

Stronger than steel, thinner than paper, graphene could be the future of tech

Since its discovery, graphene has set the research world on fire. What exactly is it, though, and what could it mean for the future of tech? Here's everything you need to know about what could be the next supermaterial to take center stage.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.
Emerging Tech

SpaceX makes rocketry look easy, sticks yet another Falcon 9 landing

SpaceX is due to perform its latest Falcon 9 rocket launch and landing on November 15 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Here's how you can watch the proceedings live.