A lot of startups want to be the Netflix (s NFLX) (or Spotify, Pandora, whatever) for ebooks. That is, they want to provide unlimited access to ebooks for a flat monthly fee.
But this is really hard to pull off, because services like this need enough books to make the prospect of paying a flat fee for them palatable. Publishers are reluctant to sign up their titles, in part because of the difficulty of paying authors when their books are viewed this way. So you have services like Amazon’s Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, which contains over 400,000 titles — the vast majority of them self-published stuff that you have never heard of.
When I first heard about the New York-based startup Oyster last year, I was extremely skeptical. Backed by Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund and founded by former Hunch, Google (s GOOG) and Microsoft (s MSFT) employees, the…
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