Any thoughts that maybe the Scandinavian love affair with digital books might be drawing to a close received a rude awakening this week as Nextory and Bookbeat declared their Q3 results.
Bookbeat was first to declare, announcing 127% revenue growth over the same period in 2018, and reported surpassing 100,000 subscribers in Sweden and Finland since its 2016 launch.
Bookbeat CEO Niclas Sandin expects to see at least 100% annual growth as the year ends, with 129% growth across the first nine months of 2019.
Bookbeat’s Germany growth hasn’t been quantified, but the press release says Bookbeat was one of the most downloaded book apps in the German Appstore.
As per expectations, no mention was made of Bookbeat UK, which is all but on life support as British publishers steer clear of the Scandinavian subscription model, even if that means bolstering Amazon’s Audible still further.
Then came the results from Nextory, which snuck ahead of Bookbeat with 130% growth in Q3, letting Nextory claim itself to be the fastest growing digital books operator in Sweden.
Like Bookbeat, Nextory operates in Sweden, Finland and Germany, but has committed to expanding across Europe, with three new European launches pending. Further news on that development is expected next week.
In the press release Nextory CEO Shadi Bitar said,
Digital books are hotter than ever. 2019 has so far been a fantastic year for Nextory and for the digital book market as a whole. We are therefore continuing to gear up and are now very much looking forward to more successful international launches.
Sweden’s industry journal Boktugg wanted to know more.
Boktugg: You start up in more markets, which? How will you work – do you hire people in each country or drive it from Sweden?
Bitar: We will mainly work from Sweden, but now we also have different teams working on site in Finland and Germany. Next week will be more information about which markets we are launching before the turn of the year.
Boktugg: How many employees does Nextory have today?
Bitar: We are starting to approach 40 full-time employees.
Boktugg: How much bigger do you think the Swedish audiobook market can be?
Bitar: The audiobook market will continue to grow. Reading habits and behavior change over time and every day more and more people discover how magical it is with digital books. The market is therefore far from saturated.
While there’s not the depth of information here that we receive from Storytel, Boktugg’s Sölve Dahlgren reminds us this is because Nextory and Bookbeat are privately-owned and under no reporting obligations beyond the annual report, whereas Storytel is obliged to provide quarterly reports in detail.
Unsaid there is that Nextory and Bookbeat have good news to report and want everyone to know about it. Should the quarterly updates from Bookbeat or Nextory dry up in the future we can assume things are not going so well.
But at this stage it seems like the Swedish love affair with digital books continues.
Enough so that Canada-based Japanese-owned Rakuten Kobo is entering the market.
Boktugg tells us that Kobo has been talking with Axiell Media.
In a press release Axiell Media CEO Eva Houltzén said,
In our goal of continuously growing the market for digital books and providing new sales channels to our affiliated publishers, we are pleased with our new collaboration with Kobo and to welcome them to Sweden.
Thus far it appears Kobo will only be selling digital books at a fixed price, not competing with the subscription services through it’s Kobo Plus operation, currently in the Netherlands and Belgium, but set to expand soon.
As Boktugg notes, while there is a Swedish-language option on Kobo there are currently no Swedish titles.