The latest roll-out of the Storytel e-in e-reader is testament to the fact that Jonas Tellander sees significant mileage in the format in the digitally-mature markets like Denmark, Netherlands (and Belgium as part of the Dutch hub) and of course Sweden itself.
It’s easy to forget sometimes that Storytel is not just an audiobook company, but also offers ebooks. That’s in part due to Storytel’s own narrative where audiobooks are the driving force of the company and ebooks come a poor second.
It’s also partly due to media coverage which focuses on the relative novelty that is digital audio – a format which has been driven by smartphone proliferation.
And partly because Storytel is a Swedish company and in Sweden ebooks were slow to take off, not least because the major ebook retail platforms like Amazon did not (and in Amazon’s case still does not – there is no Kindle SE store to accompany the Amazon Sweden website) offer their services in the region.
But as argued many times here at TNPS, ebooks actually outsell audiobooks in all markets where they got a fair start, and the significantly lower production costs for ebooks mean publishers would be crazy to eschew the format.
Storytel CEO Jonas Tellander understands that too – and the latest roll-out of the Storytel e-ink e-reader is testament to the fact that Tellander sees significant mileage in the format in the digitally-mature markets like Denmark, Netherlands (and Belgium as part of the Dutch hub) and of course Sweden itself.
But the real value of the ebook will become clear in the emerging markets where publishers’ disposable income may not run to expensive audio productions to get a foothold in the digital world, but where ebooks are the more affordable digital option both for publishers and for consumers.
The Storytel device itself is just part of the story here. Dutch readers will need to subscribe to Storytel to be able to use the device at all, and while it does come with a headphones port for audio the very act of purchase (at 129 euros with a 2 month Storytel subscription included) means the consumer will be wanting ebooks, and that will present some content issues as not all audiobooks will have ebook versions and vice versa.
And perhaps most significantly the device will be effectively useless if the consumer decides to unsubscribe from Storytel.
The latter point alone will no doubt act as a brake on take-up of the actual device, but of course Storytel’s ebook catalogue will also be available to subscribers with regular smartphones, and the very existence of the ereader device may awaken further consumer interest to the ebook opportunity Storytel offers.