In marked contrast to Storytel’s usual approach of keeping quiet about new launches until everything is ready to go, Storytel’s Asia expansion plans are being announced well in advance.
This week comes a Storytel press release confirming Storytel will be launching in Singapore in 2019, with titles in English and Chinese.
This will come as no surprise to TNPS regulars, who will recall back in August I identified Singapore as a prime candidate.
Storytel will also be co-sponsor of the fiftieth anniversary conference of the Singapore Book Publishers Association September 21–23, which must put Singapore in the frame for one of Storytel’s early Asian projects.
Storytel’s Singapore offices are opening this autumn, staffed locally, and will prepare the grounds for a 2019 launch.
Stefan Tegenfalk, Head of Expansion at Storytel, said,
With its five million inhabitants and its mix of English and Mandarin, Singapore is especially enticing and will be our first foray into Southeast Asia. In addition, Singapore is in the forefront regarding digital content and subscription services, which fits well with the model we offer.”
Singapore will join Storytel countries Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Spain, India, United Arab Emirates, Turkey and Italy, with an imminent launch Iin Mexico, launches expected in Bulgaria and Brazil, and a coordinating office in Thailand.
In the August post I speculated where Storytel might prioritise in Asia:
Apart from Thailand (57 million internet users) and Singapore, prime contenders for Storytel must be Malaysia (25 million internet users), Indonesia (143 million), the Philippines (67 million), South Korea (20 million), Taiwan (20 million), and Vietnam (64 million), which have not just the online numbers but also advanced engagement with e-commerce and online payments.
Runner-up contenders will be countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh which have the internet users (44 million and 80 million respectively) but not the e-commerce infrastructure and familiarity with online buying to make them priority targets.
Asia can also offer Sri Lanka (6 million internet users), Myanmar (18 million), Nepal (16 million) and Kazakhstan (14 million), all of which are bigger than the 5 million internet user markets of Finland and Norway where Storytel began its expansion beyond Sweden.
With the Singapore plans confirmed, and the English and Chinese language focussed confirmed, we can now look seriously at Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand as next in line.