Oyster is out to win over the reading community with an offer that is hard to resist: a library full of ebooks for just $9.95 a month. No wonder the Oyster offer is being equated to Netflix, which has a similar monthly plan for watching videos. The company has recently released a series of apps for phones and tablets and helps readers tap into an ecosystem of 100,000 ebooks. Oyster has not been too forthcoming on authors are awarded royalties for books being read, so leave it to Mark Coker and Smashwords to illuminate us on the situation.
CEO of Smashwords, Mark Coker gave an update, saying “As a Smashwords author or publisher, you’ll earn 60% of your book’s retail list price whenever an Oyster subscriber reads more than 10% of your book, starting from the beginning of the book forward. It’s an author-friendly model. That’s the same rate Smashwords authors earn when we sell ebooks through the major retailers such as Apple and Barnes and Noble.”
The 60% royalty scheme sounds very solid and is an indication on the types of arrangements that Oyster makes with other companies. This is not to say every contract abides by this scheme, as larger publishers are thought to get a higher rate. Still, it helps publishers and authors get a sense on the types of revenue is available on a Netflix subscription model for ebooks.
Coker cautions authors on their expectations on dealing with Oyster and not giving their hopes up on a new distribution model. “I want to encourage you to keep you sales expectations realistic. Although Oyster represents a new, innovative and exciting distribution channel, they are still a new company and it could take them many months or years to establish a sizable readership. However, as we know from our experience opening up distribution in 2009 and 2010 to new channels such as Kobo, Barnes & Noble and Apple, authors who are in first have a fan-building advantage over authors who delay. Even smaller retailers add to your bottom line. Every sale you get at Oyster is a sale you would not have otherwise received. “
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and Verge.