Audiobook streaming service Storytel is to open in four new markets this year: Russia, Spain, India and the United Arab Emirates.
Local offices, employees, and production teams in the four markets will allow the company to "significantly broaden its operations" and continue its "global expansion".
Storytel c.e.o. Jonas Tellander said: “Whenever we enter a new country or region, we make long-term investments and build from the ground up. Cooperating with leading publishers is important, and so is our local staff: we hand-pick employees in order to fit Storytel’s entrepreneurial corporate culture. This is a sustainable and goal-oriented strategy which has served us well in our existing markets.”
Storytel will first go online in Russia this spring, with a focus on "lighter" fiction. Non-fiction will also be offered among the 1,500 first available audio books. The company intends to grow the Russian catalogue to 4,000 titles by the end of the year.
Tellander said the company is “breaking new ground" and intends to make audiobooks a "major force" in Russia. "Our local team has a strong set-up, and will work hard to make sure Storytel achieves its goals", he added.
Storytel currently produces about 2,000 audiobooks in 10 languages per year.
“Stories written by local authors are often more popular, which is why we’ve been developing and producing Stoytel Original-content through our local teams," Tellander said. "However in Russia we’ll be satisfied strictly distributing and producing previously published material. We’re aware of the limitations of freedom of speech in Russia and that’s why we have, for the time being, decided against offering original content there."
With the range of audio books in local languages increasing, in the autumn of 2017 Storytel plans to open shop in the Spanish, Indian and Arabic markets.
Last year, Storytel acquired Danish e-book and audio streaming service Mofibo for £10.36m (100m Danish crowns), and Sweden’s oldest publisher, Norstedts Förlagsgrupp, for £12.5m.