Reading apps – Oyster and Zinio

This week I thought I would share a couple of apps I use (or plan to use) for reading. Zinio is a digital magazine app I’ve been using for a little under six months. Oyster Books is a digital book subscription service.


I’ve been really happy with Zinio. Here is a list of things I like about it:

  • Magazines look visually appealing on the iPad. Especially titles with stunning photography, like National Geographic.
  • It’s good value. A Z-Pass gives you a subscription to three magazines per month for $5 (or you can buy individual issues or individual subscriptions).
    • You can change your selection up to three times every month (which is helpful if you pick something you’re unfamiliar with and it turns out it has 40 pages of ads before you get to any content).
    • Premium publications (e.g. The Economist or Newsweek) can be added to your Z-Pass, but they cost extra.
  • Zinio often send me vouchers to put towards additional purchases.
  • The collection keeps getting bigger and better. A few weeks ago The New Yorker was added.
  • You can switch between countries, which is handy for expats.

Bad things about Zinio? I really only have one complaint. I don’t like the way the magazines display on the MacBook—they are too difficult to read. The solution? Reading them on the iPad. Much better.


It’s early days for my Oyster subscription, so these are just some details and initial thoughts.

  • To sign up, you need to request an invite. I requested one last week and it arrived yesterday—that’s not a bad lag time.
  • It costs $9.95 per month and you get access to unlimited books from their collection.
  • Oyster’s collection of books is only ok. I searched for about eight things that have been on my wish list. Most of them weren’t available.
  • I’ll give it a couple of months. There are plenty of good titles on there that I can read in the meantime—but if I don’t see evidence that the collection is growing, I won’t stick around.
  • It’s an iPhone app rather than an iPad app. You can still use it on your iPad, but it doesn’t look great.

Here are a few articles, if you’re interested in learning more—Zinio in Forbes, Oyster in The New Yorker, Oyster in Business Insider.

That’s about it. If you have a reading app you would recommend, I’d love to hear about it.


2 replies

  1. I don’t have any apps to recommend, but Zinio sounds interesting. I enjoy reading magazines but I don’t necessarily like getting paper copies in the mail to read. Being able to read them on the iPad is a big win. I’ll have to go check it out.

    • Much less wasted paper, plus some publications look even better on retina display 🙂
      I’m not sure how I feel about the interactive magazines yet. It freaks me out when they suddenly start moving or making noises.

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