If the Scribd-New York Times subscription bundle made the headlines in the Anglophone world, it is Bookbeat’s deal with Dagen Nyheter that is the big news in Scandinavia.
Bookbeat, second player to Storytel in the Nordic audiobook and ebook subscription stakes, has signed a deal with the Swedish digital news service (Dagens Nyheter = Today’s News) that could bring some of Dagens Nyheter’s 150,000 subscribers into the Bookbeat orbit of 130,000 subscribers.
In a press release Bookbeat CEO Niclas Sandin explained,
DN has really managed to exemplify increasing the willingness to pay for high quality digital content. For us, they become a watchful partner when we probably have equal audiences.
Anna Åberg, Head of Dagens Nyheter said,
Through a package we can offer a favorable price for those who are interested in trying both products. We see it as an added value to our subscribers.
Part of Bonnier, Bookbeat, founded in 2015, has operations in Sweden, Finland, Germany and the UK, although the latter is little more than a token presence right now.
Boktugg, a Swedish publishing industry journal, had this take on the development:
The Swedish streaming market for books has grown sharply in recent years and at some point growth will stop and the struggle for existing market shares will increase. With this in mind, it is interesting that Bookbeat now chooses to enter a price war and offers the service for only SEK 99 ($10.99) to subscribers on Dagens Nyheter.
This for me is the crux of the matter. In the small-population Scandinavian markets saturation is going to be reached far sooner than in a large market like the USA, and while there’s clearly still room for growth in the Nordic lands, the tipping point is fast approaching where market share supercedes growth as the digital driver.
For Storytel, well out in front in Sweden and with a global expansion plan, saturation at home will be a minor irritation.
For late starters like Bookbeat and Nextory the issue of saturation looms large.
The latecomers are no more likely to eat away Storytel’s dominance than are Amazon’s rivals in the US. One cannot imagine Jonas Tellander losing sleep over the Bookbeat-DN deal.
But it is in the untapped nascent markets that the real opportunities for growth lie.
Jonas Tellander understands that. Sadly there is no sign yet that Storytel’s rivals are prepared to take on that challenge.