We won’t know the full story for Storytel 2018 until April, but the Q4 results are out and include an overview of the year, and a clear picture is emerging of consistent and sustainable growth, driven by digital.

As I’ll explore in a follow-up report on the Swedish book market, what we are seeing in Sweden and beyond is an alternative, digitally-driven publishing model emerging that will in time pose a serious challenge to the existing model in the mature western markets where print dictates the pace and digital is a sideshow dominated by Amazon.
But today a brief look at the Storytel Q4 results. This from the press release:

  • Subscriber base up 44% Y/Y to 768,700 on average in Q4 2018 (533,400).
  • Streaming sales up 39% Y/Y to 291 MSEK ($31 million) in Q4 2018 (209 MSEK)
  • Streaming sales surpassed target of 1,000 MSEK in 2018
  • Storytel launched in Mexico and Bulgaria, now present in 15 markets.
  • Changed listing venue from Spotlight to Nasdaq First North
  • Successful Storytel Family launch boosted subscriber base growth in Sweden
  • Forecast growth in subscriber base to on average 835,000 in Q1 2019 (+44% Y/Y)

Storytel CEO Jonas Tellander reported 2018 targets exceeded both in revenue and subscribers.
The 2018 target of 1 billion SEK in streaming revenues and 800,000 in fact came in at 1.033 billion SEK and subscribers scraped over the 800,000 mark just a few days off-target in the second week of January.
Significantly, Tellander reported Storytel now has

  • Ten markets with >10,000 subscribers, twice end 2017.
  • Seven markets with >25,000 subscribers, up from four markets in 2017.
  • The Netherlands exceeds 50,000 subscribers

For 2019 Tellander says Storytel will

add three to five more markets with >10,000 subscribers, two to four more markets with >25,000 subscribers and two to four more markets with >50,000 subscribers.

Tellander claims Storytel

now holds market leading position on seven markets, up from only four markets a year ago. We are profitable on four markets, and in 2019 we expect to breakeven in at least one more market.

Storytel is targeting 1.1 million subscribers by end 2019. The revenue target for end 2019 is 1.4 billion SEK ($150 milion), corresponding to 36-41% revenue growth.
Very little to surprise anyone here – it’s more of the same.
But so much to be thinking about.
Earlier this month a detailed report on the Swedish book market was released – I’ll be covering this shortly – and it’s very clear the digital subscription model, a model that the Anglophone publishing industry has largely eschewed, is driving book sales at an unprecedented rate.
That’s not unique to Scandinavia. Anecdotal evidence suggests Storytel’s other markets are responding similarly, and beyond those markets other players are showing the interest in subscription is strong.
We’d be very wrong to see this as somehow confined to audiobooks, although that’s the message that often comes across because of Storytel’s audio focus.
But this is about digital consumption of books and about consumers being given a real choice of consumption models – something largely not happening in the mature Anglophone markets.
So view today’s Storytel Q4 results as part of a much bigger picture.
A reminder here in closing that Storytel currently offers its audiobook and ebook subscription service in  Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, The Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Spain, India, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Italy, Mexico and Bulgaria, with launches imminent in Brazil and Singapore, and ambitions for further expansion in Ibero-America and SE Asia.
Full Storytel report here.