The bigger picture here is how a publisher in Denmark, a “minor-language” country with a population barely bigger than some US cities, has managed to become a significant global player on par with corporate publishers in “international-language” countries, by embracing the digital advantage rather than treating digital as an afterthought.
As the digital publishing arm (since 2014) of Denmark-based Lindhardt og Ringhof, Saga Egmont is a shining example of how publishers in small-population-minor-language countries can punch well above their weight if they are willing to step outside the “traditional publishing” box.
With a population of just 5.7 million – smaller than London or New York – and with just 6 million Danish speakers worldwide, Denmark is not an obvious choice to look for a major global publishing house, let alone a major global digital publishing house.
Forlagshuset Lindhardt og Ringhof is made up of the publishers Lindhardt and Ringhof, Storyhouse and Carlsen, and the educational publishers Alinea, Akademisk Forlag and Alfabeta, alongside the Saga Egmont, which now publishes digitally in over 30 languages.
It is this digital focus that has enabled Saga Egmont to become a global powerhouse with the wherewithal to buy out entire foreign-language catalogues, as happened in March 2020 when Saga Egmont acquired the Spanish-language catalogues of audiobook publishers Sonolibro and, separately, of Audiomol, making Saga Egmont the third largest Spanish-language audiobook publisher in the world.
These moves in turn arose from the November 2019 decision by Saga Egmont to partner with Bookwire, the leading Ibero-America digital books distributor.
Of such joined-up digital thinking is the history of Saga Egmont made, enabling a digital publisher in tiny Denmark to straddle the digital publishing world.
That in turn brings us to the latest news that Saga Egmont has partnered with Roca Editorial to “produce, publish and distribute” the Roca catalogue in audiobook format.
Lasse Korsemann Horne, Saga Egmont’s Publishing Director , said in a press release:
Saga’s overall mission is to set books free – the audiobook is free of physical boundaries and a perfect match for a world-language. The audiobook can travel across the world, into every reader’s cell phone with one click, but it brings with it the warmth and personality that a voice comprises. In this sense, the audiobook is a phenomenal book format. We are so proud to put voices to Roca’s engaging books and find new readers across the globe.
Saga Editor-in-Chief Natalie Uldbjerg Hansen added:
For us in Saga, the audiobook is the format of the future. And this deal is not only great for the listeners, who can expect a great and varied selection of audiobooks on all the sales channels. This deal also shows the benefits of publishers working together to assure growth on the Spanish audiobook market – in the end it is beneficial for everyone involved, especially the authors and rights-holders.
Saga Egmont began as an ebook-focussed operation, audiobooks were a natural progression, and while we can argue the detail of Natalie Uldbjerg Hansen’s assertion that “the audiobook is the format of the future,” there’s no question that audiobooks will continue to be major and growing component of the global publishing industry for the foreseeable future.
But stepping back, the bigger picture here is how a publisher in Denmark has managed to become a significant global player on par with corporate publishers in “international-language” countries, by embracing the digital advantage rather than treating digital as an afterthought.
That’s a lesson for publishers everywhere around the world.