It seems like only days ago that I reported here on TNPS that Storytel has launched in India, beating Amazon’s Audible, not due to go live in India until the new year some time. Storytel also has a launch in the United Arab Emirates pending.
But it’s not just in India and the UAE where Sweden’s audiobook subscription service Storytel is looking to make an impact (on top of its presence in Finland, Norway, Denmark, Poland, Russia, Netherlands, Spain and of course Sweden).
Storytel is also working with the Italian publisher Giunti to get a foothold in the Italian audiobook market. Storytel will be taking titles across Giunti’s fiction, non-fiction and children’s titles.
The Italian venture will be the first time Storytel has gone head to head with Amazon’s Audible (Audible India has yet to launch, but is expected in early 2018).
Audible has operations in the USA, UK, Italy, France, Germany, Japan and Australia, and while the bigger operation thanks to parent company Amazon, Storytel is the biggest audiobook player in terms of international operations and languages.
Founded in 1997, Audible had already set up in the US, UK, France and Germany when Amazon acquired the company in 2008, a year after the Kindle store launched.
Audible’s expansion since has, understandably, followed the Kindle store’s path. Last month Audible added a Chinese language arm, but only catering to Chinese speakers outside China.
Audible’s next moves are likely to be in the remaining Kindle countries. An operation in Spain would bring in Spanish-language content that could also do well in Mexico and the US (the USA has more Spanish speakers than Spain and Amazon introduced a Spanish-language option on Amazon.com earlier this year). Audible operations in the Netherlands and Brazil might follow.
But critically Amazon’s Audible expansion will be guided by the Kindle store, and as per my speculation here on TNPS,
the Kindle store’s global expansion may be on the backburner right now.
Storytel by contrast, is comfortable building up global reach by largely avoiding the Kindle countries and focussing on nascent markets where the competition is less fierce. The launch in India is the first time Storytel has ventured into the Anglophone markets.
But with the move into Italy we see signs of Storytel’s growing confidence. Could we see Storytel in the US and UK before this decade is over?
Last year that seemed unlikely. But Storytel’s expansion in 2017 shows enormous promise, and perhaps more importantly shows what can be done on a small budget.
Imagine where Storytel could be in five years time with some serious investment.