Bookseller Briefing 26/19 – week ending 28 June

BookBeat launches in 24 countries in major European expansion

Audiobook streaming service BookBeat has launched in 24 new European markets, making the service available in 28 countries overall.

The service, which is operated by Bonnier, launched in Sweden and Finland in 2016, shortly followed by Germany and the UK.

According to BookBeat, the service is now on track to pass 200,000 paying customers this summer after opening in markets including Spain, Italy, Denmark, Poland and the Netherlands last week in a bid to grow BookBeat’s presence in European markets, to get more local publishers to produce audio and to reach potential new customers. There are currently no plans to launch in the United States, with the business currently focused on becoming the leading audiobook streaming service in Europe.

Most markets will have access to more than 50,000 audio and e-books. Most of the catalogue is currently made up of English content but many markets will have catalogues that are complemented with audiobooks and e-books produced in that market’s respective language.  In a statement announcing the expansion, BookBeat said as soon as the business identifies potential in a specific market, the app will be translated and a team for that respective country will be recruited.

Bookbeat c.e.o. Niclas Sandin said: “‘Don’t get stuck on the starting block’ has been BookBeat’s strategy since day one. The only way to really test the potential of market, in terms of both publisher and user interest, is to exist there. We think the audiobook can be one of the fastest growing forms of digital media in Europe. As such, as soon as a market shows potential, we want to already be there in order to seize it, and become Europe’s leading streaming service for Audiobooks.

“This broad launch was made possible thanks to our fantastic team who have developed a platform that can easily be scaled up and even adapted to local and individual needs. Our customers will receive curated presentations of content, as well as algorithm-based recommendations based on which books are most popular in each market.”

Audiobooks took off in Sweden and other Nordic markets a decade before digital growth and streaming services picked up speed. As a result digital content was already available in Sweden upon BookBeat’s launch. According to BookBeat, this is not the case in some European markets which have no audiobook streaming services.

Bookbeat’s director of international expansion William Jakoby said: “Over the past few years, BookBeat has had discussions with many publishers around Europe. In these conversations it has become clear that we need to move from the abstract stage quickly and show what can be achieved when publishers are willing to invest in audiobook production. This launch means that we can continue ongoing conversations with publishers, as well as initiate new ones.”

Sandin added: “In many markets there is no audiobook streaming services around, and audiobooks have not started to grow, which makes it abstract to talk about the phenomenon and what the service is and how it works for publishers. By opening the service on a market it becomes concrete as publishers can sign up themselves, use the service and start to release audiobooks to us and track what kind of revenue it can create. This creates a better foundation to increase their investment in audiobooks.”

BookBeat also rolled out its service last week in Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Czech Republic as well as Estonia, France, Greece, Hungary and Ireland. Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta and Norway alongside Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia, take BookBeat’s markets to 28.