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Google snaps up staff from Oyster's soon-to-close e-book service

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Oyster's experiment with a Netflix-like subscription service for e-books appears to be coming to a close... at least, in its current form. The startup is warning customers that it will shut down its all-you-can-read service over the course of several months. As it explains, the team has decided that the best way to pursue its mobile reading dream is to take on "new opportunities." While it's not initially clear what this means, Recode has confirmed that "a portion" of Oyster's staff (including its CEO and co-founders) are jumping ship for Google's Play Books division. In short, this is an indirect acquisition -- Google is snapping up the core of the company without buying all of its assets.

There are hints at a possible resurgence, whether it's at Google or somewhere else, but we wouldn't count on this unlimited reading model coming back as-is. Unlike with movies, most book enthusiasts don't read so voraciously that they can justify dropping $10 per month. Oyster added purchasable books well after it got started, and likely too late to help. And we'd note that Oyster was trying to take on Amazon, the 800-pound gorilla of e-books -- unless it offered something that made Amazon's business strategy seem quaint, it was always going to face an uphill battle. As sad as it is to lose an interesting alternative to the pay-per-book model, this outcome isn't that shocking.

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