Storytel to launch in Colombia September 1 as Storytel’s Latin America strategy takes shape

It may be run from Mexico, but in a few days time Storytel will formally launch in Colombia, its second Latin America market, and one of three now planned for this year.

It was back in May 2018, some fifteen months ago, that TNPS broke the news of Jonas Tellander’s Latin America ambitions. Back then I speculated Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and Colombia as prime candidates.

Storytel’s Latin American ambitions. Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and Colombia for 2019?

In June Mexico was confirmed to be on the cards –

Storytel confirms Latin America ambitions. Mexico launch this year

and in August it became clear Brazil was coming –

Storytel Brazil 2019 launch whispers grows louder

Mexico finally launched in November as Storytel’s 14th market –

Storytel launches in 14th market – Mexico – with 2,400 Spanish titles accessible across Latin America

and just before that Storytel confirmed Brazil for 2019.

Storytel confirms Brazil launch for 2019 as Mexico launch nears

Today Storytel is in 17 markets: Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Germany, Russia, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Italy, Turkey, India, United Arab Emirates, Bulgaria, Singapore and Mexico, with Brazil due any day and South Korea confirmed for late 2019.

With Colombia now days away we should see at least 20 Storytel markets by year’s end.

At least? Thailand remains a possibility for this year, and we should not exclude the possibility of Tellander following up Colombia with a launch for Argentina before the year is out.

With over one million subscribers Tellander will be feeling confident and strident and my guess is we’ll see more of these app-based country launches from a centrally placed base, at least where language content overlaps.

Storytel hits one million subscriber target five months ahead of expectations as audiobook and ebook users “rise significantly” during summer

That could mean that in 2020 Storytel rapidly expands across Latin America, Brazil might prove an operational base for a Portugal launch, and Dubai (UAE) might prove a base for a country by country expansion of Storytel across the Arabic-speaking Middle East and North Africa.

Okay, that’s all speculative right now, so let’s get back to what we do know about the Colombia launch. In a press release Storytel Mexico’s Country Manager José Alberto Parra García told us:

Beginning September 1, Storytel AB (“Storytel”), the leading audiobook and electronic book subscription platform in northern Europe and Latin America, will extend its Latin American service to Colombia. The operation of the new Colombian app will be in charge of the Mexican subsidiary of Storytel, will be priced in Colombian pesos, as well as a catalog in Spanish of 5,000 audiobooks and 17,000 electronic books.

The Colombian launch of Storytel will be supported by the Family Compensation Fund of Antioquia, Comfama, a social, private and autonomous company, supervised by the Government of Colombia, which aims to accompany the improvement of the quality of life of the Antioqueños and the expansion and consolidation of the working middle class of said Colombian department.

The Medellín Book and Culture Festival, from September 6 to 15, is one of the most important literary events in Latin America, attended by more than half a million people every year. At this year’s festival, Storytel and Comfama will offer the public a joint stand that will inspire attendees to discover the world of audiobooks and electronic books.

That last point is an interesting one to end on.

We hear so often that Latinos don’t read that its easy to start believing it, but Latin American book fairs show there is huge interest in books.

In Colombia alone over 1.5 million people attended book fairs in the country in 2018.

1.5 million people attended book fairs in Colombia in 2018, buying 1.1 million books not recorded by the retail sector

That figure will likely be higher still this year. Back in may the Bogota International Book Fair alone saw record sales and record visitors – 605,000 turning out for the event.

As mainstream publishing struggles in Latin America, book fair attendance and sales continue to rise. Colombia’s Bogota IBF sets new record with sales up 10% from 605,000 visitors

The global book market is so much bigger than we think.

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