Today Storytel India offers over 1,000 titles on its localized app. Not bad going for an operation that only went live in November and began with a cold-call email from an avid Indian reader.
How Storytel came to beat Amazon’s Audible to India –
and indeed how Storytel came to be in India at all, given its prior focus on the European markets closer to its Swedish home, is something I’ve often lain awake at night wondering (oh, come on, admit you were slightly curious!).
This week Your Story hosts Yogesh Dashrath, Country Manager for Storytel India, who reveals that Storytel India began with a cold-call email to Storytel chief Jonas Tellander less than two years ago.
Dashrath had used the Storytel app while working in Europe and got to thinking, might this work back home in India?
I just cold-mailed them. They responded and I went and made a presentation of why they had to enter India.
Next thing you know, Yogesh Dashrath is Storytel Country Manager in India.
Well, okay, there was eighteen months of preparation, and it helped that Dashrath was an IT professional and could answer Storytel’s questions about pricing, the market, and the language that would be most preferential to launch their own titles in India.
Dashrath returned to India in 2016, put together a fifteen member team and launched Storytel India late last year with six Marathi and nine Hindi titles.
Some 70 new writers are commissioned, with authors getting advance upfront royalty and trailing royalties, and deals are in place to deliver audiobooks from mainstream players like Penguin and Harper Collins.
While Storytel will be focused on original content it is likely it will also find a warm reception from all the mainstream publishers, who will be anxious to develop an alternative audio platform to balance the pending arrival of Amazon’s Audible, expected this spring.
Storytel India plans to expand operations rapidly by promoting the business on social media platforms and at literature fairs and festivals.
The latter certainly sounds a good bet. If you’ve been following TNPS this year you’ll know literally millions of Indians are eagerly attending book fairs and festivals.
The cold-call origins of Storytel finds a comfortable place in Storytel’s unusual history alongside the fact that Storytel originally got off the ground thanks to funding from the Swedish equivalent of the reality TV show Dragon’s Den (Shark Tank in USA).
As noted here at TNPS earlier this month, Storytel has ambitions to be available in over thirty countries soon.