Nextory is claiming to be the second largest digital books service in Norway and the only independent digital books operator in Norway.

With a catalogue at launch of 270,000 audiobook and ebook titles in Norwegian and English (no breakdown given on either format or language, but we can safely assume the bulk are in English at this point), Nextory is claiming to be the second largest digital books service in Norway and the only independent digital books operator in Norway.

Nextory is already operational in Finland, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Austria and Switzerland alongside homeland Sweden, and in Norway goes up against market leader Storytel, Fabel and Ebok Plus. BookBeat has yet to launch in Norway.

Per the press release, Nextory Norway launches with content from “Aschehoug, Cappelen Damm, Strawberry, Vigmostad & Bjørke, Kagge, Samlaget and Goliat, among others.”

We knew in January that a Norway launch was imminent –

Nextory CEO Shadi Bitar has been trying to get a foothold in this lucrative minor-language-market (5.3 million Norwegians online and no room to grow as at 98% internet penetration) but even as recently as October 2020 it seemed there were insurmountable obstacles.

But good things come to those that wait, and Bitar’s wait is at an end, with Nextory becoming the first independent digital books service in the country.

Independent? In fact the rival players are all publisher-owned. Storytel Norway is jointly owned by Norway’s Cappelen Damm and Sweden’s Storytel; Fabel is run by Lydbokforlaget and in turn jointly owned by Aschehoug and Gyldendal; while a much smaller player, Ebok Pluss, is owned by Vigmostad & Bjørke.

Per the press release, Bitar said today:

We are very happy to finally be in place in Norway. The Norwegian streaming market for books has long been locked in because the largest publishers only sold their books through their own sales channels. Nextory is now the first independent retailer with a strong and wide range. This gives us a strong position that allows us to continue to develop the Norwegian book market.

The press release quotes the Norwegian book-reader survey as asserting that on average Norwegians,

read at least 13 books per person in 2019, and more and more audio and e-books are also being consumed. The proportion of the population who used a streaming service to listen to audio books increased to 16 percent in 2019. An increase of 9 percentage points from the previous survey.

The next survey, due this year, will be especially interesting as it will be the first to fully embrace the streaming era.

Nextory’s Chief Content Officer Magnus Nytell adds that 80% of Nextory consumers read more than before signing up.

Nextory also claims to be the second largest digital books service on the Swedish market.

That’s an interesting claim given Nextory does not share its numbers publicly, only percentage gains, leaving one wondering if BookBeat agrees.

BookBeat is on target to exceed a half million subscribers in Q2 across its core markets, with $60 million revenue reported in 2020. Storytel is of course the outright market leader in Sweden.