The Next Act for the ‘Netflix of Books’ Is Basically a Bookstore

April 8, 2015 12:00 PM

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Oyster was founded on a novel principle: One day, instead of buying e-books, people would join a service that would provide any title they wanted for a monthly fee. A year and a half after launching such a service, the New York-based startup has decided that people are going to keep buying books after all. On Wednesday the company moved to add an e-bookstore to its subscription service, allowing customers to purchase single books that aren’t available in its lending library.

In one sense, the move is an admission of defeat. Oyster and competitors such as Scribd and Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited have been steadily expanding their offerings. Oyster even gained access to the Harry Potter series earlier this year. But publishers simply aren’t willing to give the subscription e-...

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