Audiobook streamer Storytel has added to the growing heat in the audiobook market by buying Audiobooks.com from RBmedia owner KKR for $135 million to make a move into the US market.
Storytel is based in Sweden and has been covering 25 non-English-language markets throughout Europe, South America and Asia,
Audiobooks.com is one of the leading audiobook services in the US and Storytel says the acquisition aims to extend its expansion and profitable growth to the biggest English-language audio market in the world.
Since launching in 2011, Audiobooks.com has built a strong brand in the US audiobook market and also offers integration with Alexa, Sonos, CarPlay and Android Auto. It offers subscribers 300,000 audiobooks as well as millions of free podcasts. Subscribers can choose two audiobooks a month for their $14.95 monthly fee, which is the same price as for Audible.
Storytel claims to have more than 1.7 million subscribers and more than 700,000 titles covering over 30 languages. Its subscription levels vary according to the market but, for example, it charges a monthly subscription of €12.99 in Belgium for unlimited access.
Storytel founder and CEO Jonas Tellander says, ‘I have been impressed by Audiobooks.com’s success, expertise and experience in the US market, as well as across the UK and Australia. Audiobooks.com is a growing profitable business with a consumer and partnership-friendly approach that offers Storytel a new platform for growth.
‘I am now looking forward to working with our teams, publishers and partners to make audiobook listening as popular on the English-speaking markets as it has become in recent years in the Nordics.’
Audiobooks.com general manager Ian Small says, ‘I am proud of the success that the Audiobooks.com team has achieved, positioning the company as one of the leading US services for audiobooks.
‘With Storytel, we join a group with an aligned vision and values that offer a solid base and global scale to address a market of hundreds of millions of English-speaking consumers.’
The move puts Storytel in direct competition with Amazon’s Audible, the dominant market player and follows fellow Swedish company Spotify setting out its ambitions in the audiobook market by buying Findaway to speed up its entry into the sector.