Calling its new online publication a form of “book discovery,” Oyster, the e-book subscription service, is launching the Oyster Review, an online literary journal that will publish original essays, reviews, and interviews on books and writing. Oyster is also establishing an Authors Advisory Board, comprised of three authors that will represent writer’s interests and provide “feedback” to Oyster management.
“It's our first entry into the public literary conversation and community,” said Oyster's editorial director, Kevin Nguyen, of the journal. Nguyen, who is also the editor of the Oyster Review, described the publication as the company's “latest discovery project,” explaining that “some readers want algorithmic recommendations, and others want editorial recommendations, or reviews.”
Oyster's new Authors Advisory Board is comprised of novelists Roxane Gay, Megan Abbott and Lauren Oliver. Nguyen said the board is charged with providing feedback to Oyster from the perspective of working writers. “We have a direct line to publishers and readers, this is a chance to hear directly from writers.”
Nguyen said the board’s feedback would be “internal,” and would not be made public. But he also acknowledged that the writers can provide feedback on “subscription royalties or anything,” including the Oyster business model. (Oyster offers reader unlimited access to 500,000 backlist titles for $9.95 a month.) However, he emphasized that Oyster works directly with, and pays, publishers when a book is read on the subscription service, then the publishers pay the authors.
The Oyster Review is free to anyone who wants to read it, Nguyen said, and all the material will be original. The journal will supply a wide range of literary commentary, from reviews, essays and profiles, to humor and satirical pieces, interviews and comics. Current contributors include novelist Gabriel Roth (The Unknowns) and journalist Kyle Chayka. Cartoonist Hallie Bateman has done a comic about re-reading George Orwell’s 1984, and Nguyen himself has written an essay and a short appreciation of National Book Award honoree, Ursula Le Guin.
While anyone can read the Oyster Review, Nguyen said the site would add more functionality that was strictly for Oyster subscribers.
“We really want to be a part of the publishing community,” Nguyen said of Oyster. “We want to use the Oyster Review to bring Oyster to a new audience.”