The US-centric subscription e-reading service Oyster revealed today that they have broken free of Android and iOS. Oyster has launched a browser-based reading app which will enable users to access Oyster's large catalog of ebooks.
“Knowing that about a third of ebook readers regularly read on the web, we’ve had our sights set on this launch for some time,” said Eric Stromberg, Co-Founder and CEO of Oyster. “This marks an important next step on our mission to provide the best product on as many devices as possible.”
According to the press release the app is supposed to be available for "web and mobile web browsers" today, but the website hasn't quite been updated yet. When the new web app does go live, the expansion will mark Oyster’s second new platform in the past month, delivering the service to a vast new audience of readers. The app will offer access to a catalog of 500,000 titles, which readers can access for $9.99.
Both of Oyster's immediate competitors, Scribd and Kindle Unlimited, offer a browser-based reading option, but their apps work a little differently. Rather than use page turns which readers are now accustomed,Oyster's press release says that the new web app scrolls "smoothly from top to bottom, while also offering the choice of one of five reader themes Oyster users love on Android and Apple platforms".
I'm still trying to get more details from Oyster, but for now I can tell you that the app looks like this:
I don't know about you but I don't find that terribly appealing. Speaking as someone who likes to read ebooks on his laptop, Oyster is wasting a lot of screen real estate with white space. For a screen the size of the one on that Macbook, Oyster should really be offering a two or three column mode.
On the other hand, a multi-column mode would get in the way of scrolling. And while some might complain about the lack of page turns, I'm not sure that is a valid critique. You and I scroll webpages every day, so it's not like having to scroll a book is a hassle.
It is unusual, though.