We shouldn’t be surprised. Sweden is the digital books capital of the world, on a per capita basis, although it is audiobooks, not ebooks, that are the driving force, and indications are more than half the Swedish book market is now owned by the digital start-ups Storytel, Nextory and BookBeat.
Per a report in the Swedish publishing trade journal Boktugg today, Amazon has launched its Prime service in Sweden, a year after launching the Amazon store in the country.
And surprise, surprise, there are no books or ebooks in the package.
While Amazon has made a few token launches with Audible in recent years (most recently Italy and Spain, both with the unlimited subscription model), books and ebooks have long since drifted from Amazon’s agenda, and the Italy and Spain launches were both predicated on Amazon’s existing relationships with publishers in those countries, from back when Amazon was still taking the international book markets seriously.
The last Kindle store launch was in the Netherlands almost seven years ago, with numerous new Amazon launches globally since (Singapore, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Turkey, etc) going live with no books or ebooks.
So the news from Sweden today is no surprise to anyone, but a disappointment to those who hoped Amazon’s presence in the Nordics might encompass the book markets.
Rumours that Amazon was talking to Swedish publishers probably had some truth to them, but its clear that if so the engagement was not enough to convince Amazon it was worth the effort.
Again, we shouldn’t be surprised. Sweden is the digital books capital of the world, on a per capita basis, although it is audiobooks, not ebooks, that are the driving force, and indications are more than half the Swedish book market is now owned by the digital start-ups Storytel, Nextory and BookBeat.
And if those three have proven beyond doubt that the Nordics digital book markets are viable, it’s simply way too late for Amazon to seriously compete, either for consumers, already wedded to the unlimited subscription model, or for publishers, who have few reasons to weaken their relationship with the home-based digital books players by dealing with Amazon.
So while the latest story is publishing news, it tells us nothing we did not already know.
Of more interest, but probably just as predictable, is Amazon’s pending launch in Indonesia, which will most likely happen after Storytel’s imminent launch in Indonesia (due Q3).
Thus far there has been no suggestion Amazon has been seriously talking with Indonesia publishers, and it’s a very safe bet the Amazon Indonesia launch, as and when it finally happens, will be without books.