If you read nothing else on Oyster and a Netflix for books, make it this by Chris Mceigh. The money quote:
So should publishers allow Amazon to go head to head with fledgling players for control of this new supplementary income stream or hold back from signing those licensing contracts with the Seattle giant till they see where the land lies?
It’s a choice that could define our industry in ways we can’t begin to imagine yet.
Smashwords keeps doing interesting and exciting things, no question about it. I’m intrigued by two things here, the first that with such a decent catalogue, Smashwords can now, almost on its own, create a viable market offering for a start-up with an innovative idea, the second that self-published material, as a block, is becoming more important by the day:
I expect Smashwords titles to begin shipping to Oyster in about three weeks. At least 72 hours before we begin shipping to Oyster, I’ll send out an email alert to all Smashwords authors and publishers. The email will contain complete financial details, including royalty rates and sampling thresholds, so you can make an informed decision about your participation. It’s an author friendly deal so I expect you’ll be pleased.
Unlike KDP Select, Oyster does not require exclusivity. It’s open to all Smashwords authors. A single Oyster user could conceivably read multiple books by the same Smashwords author in a single month, and the author will be paid for each book. Smashwords authors will earn their royalty whenever an Oyster subscriber reads more than a sample of their book.
Oyster’s subscription service will help our authors connect with a segment of the reading audience they’re not reaching anywhere else. Oyster will also give authors yet another reason to steer clear of exclusivity and embrace full distribution with Smashwords.
Not sure I agree with all of this and certainly sure that his vision for the future is perhaps a little more simple than is likely, but worth reading:
With luck we’re entering a world in which readers have access to any and every book for a flat fee; authors get paid depending on how much they’re actually read; publishers remain a vital but decreasingly visible part of the process; physical books are still available via online print-on-demand and niche physical stores; and zillions of CC-licensed books are freely available to readers in the poor world who can’t yet afford books or subscription services. Call me Pollyanna, but it seems to me that that’s a win for absolutely everyone.