Storytel has confirmed its plans to launch in Latin America, with Mexico first in line.
As revealed here on TNPS a month ago, Storytel has been talking with publishers across Latin America –
and in an unusual move for Storytel it has made a formal announcement on the Storytel Spain blog confirming its Latin American ambitions.
Storytel is expanding its operations to Latin America, where it expects to deploy its service by the end of 2018. Mexico City is the headquarters of the new Storytel branch, with already established teams within Streaming and Digital Publishing.
Currently Storytel has operations in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Spain, India, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey, with an Italy launch expected any time now, and a Bulgaria launch likely.
Likely? Storytel acquired a Bulgarian audiobook company last year and has been signing Bulgarian audio rights, but has yet to confirm Bulgaria will see a store this year.
That’s in keeping with Storytel’s low-key approach to new launches, so the formal confirmation of its Latin America ambitions comes as a surprise.
Storytel ES explains,
The agreements with several of the most important publishers in Latin America have allowed, since the beginning of the year, the production of approximately six hundred new audiobooks in preparation for the launch of Storytel at the end of the year. This number is added to an existing catalog of nearly 1,500 titles in Spanish that are already available to listeners in Spain.
That’s interesting because Storytel reps have previously intimated different dialects and accents either side of the Atlantic might cause friction.
That issue is more likely to arise when Storytel embraces Portugal and Brazil, where the variant versions of Portuguese are said to be less than interchangeable.
But for the Spanish-speaking Latin American market Storytel is taking the approach that this is a viable economic unit that includes the USA.
Stefan Tegenfalk, Head of Expansion at Storytel, Sweden, said,
Latin America is a big economic zone with a growing interest in subscription services for film and music, but with an underdeveloped market for audiobooks. There are more than 400 million native speakers of Spanish in Latin America, and we want to be there, investing in the development of a catalog of Latin American audiobooks. We are also directing our service to the 40 million Spanish speakers in the US, which means that establishing our headquarters in Mexico makes sense.
As reported here a month ago, Storytel has been looking at Argentina and Colombia as well as Brazil, with Mexico a given. Mexico is the only Latin American country on the Storytel international site that lists thirty countries Storytel has domain names for. Like Amazon, Storytel sees Mexico as the gateway between the US and Latin America.
But unlike Amazon, Storytel is from the off talking about “the development of a catalog of Latin American” content, making clear this is about much more than just Mexico and the USA.
When Storytel says they have “agreements with several of the most important publishers in Latin America” that suggests this is indeed going to be, initially, a continent-wide operation operating out of Mexico City, akin to the newly-launched pan-Arab operation based in Dubai.
I’ll end this post by noting that, with very few exceptions, Storytel is targeting countries and regions where Amazon is notable for its absence, both for ebooks and audiobooks.
Amazon’s audiobook arm Audible has just eight global operations – US, UK, Canada, Australia, Japan, France, Germany and Italy, with an imminent launch in India.
Thus far Storytel has avoided a head-on confrontation with Amazon. But that’s about to change.
Storytel beat Audible to India –
Audible got to Italy first. So with Audible’s India launch imminent. and the Storytel Italy launch due any day, India and Italy will be the only countries where Storytel goes head to head with Amazon for audiobook consumers.