Swedish audiobook streaming service, Storytel, is acquiring UAE-based audiobook competitor, Kitab Sawti. The Arabic audiobook platform will combine its audio content lineup with the Swedish group’s Storytel Arabia to form one of the world’s biggest Arabic audiobook libraries
Founded in 2016 by Swedish entrepreneurs, Sebastian Bond and Anton Pollak, Kitab Sawti quickly became a go-to for many Arabic listeners across the region, boasting more than 2,500 audiobooks that include 80%of the region’s bestsellers and its own production studios across the region with over 100 narrators on their slate.
“We are really proud of what Kitab Sawti and our amazing team has achieved with our businesses in the Arabic region. I am confident that Storytel, with its technical capabilities, entrepreneurial spirit and multi-market experience, will be an excellent owner and develop these businesses further. I am also eager to experience the potential that will be unleashed as we continue to fuel the passion of the consumers and the unique qualities of the Arabic authorships, publishers and cultural life”, said Bond, CEO at Kitab Sawti.
According to Kitab Sawti, the platform has seen an annual sales growth of 79% in Q1 2020 compared to the year before, and have recently struck a deal with ride-hailing app Careem in Saudi Arabia to establish a rewards system that would allow users to redeem points for subscriptions on the app.
With this acquisition, Bond will lead and oversee Storytel’s business in the Middle East. The platform has a total of 1.2 million paying subscribers and operations in 20 markets, with more than 500,000 audiobooks and e-books in their library, competing with the likes of Amazon’s Audible. The Swedish company saw great spikes during corona-related lockdowns, according to Reuters, with an increase of 101,800 paying customers in Q2 2020.
Jonas Tellander, CEO and founder of Storytel commented on the acquisition, “I am really thrilled and excited about the great opportunities that the combination of Storytel and Kitab Sawti will offer Arabic consumers, publishers and authorships. Online media consumption is booming in the Middle East, as is the confidence local consumers are showing in digital products and payment solutions.”