Storytel, the international audiobook streaming company, is buying Audiobooks.com from KKR, owner of RBmedia, for an undisclosed amount. This marks the Stockholm-based firm’s entry into the English-language audiobook market, putting it in direct competition with Amazon’s Audible, the dominant market player. The acquisition will be financed through existing funds and a newly issued 500 million crown ($57.3 million) loan facility, Storytel said in a statement.
Audiobooks.com was started in 2011 and was acquired by RBmedia in 2017. The company was among the first to enable streaming to internet-connected car-based streaming applications and currently offers some 300,000 audiobooks and millions of podcasts.
Storytel is the dominant audiobook streaming service in the Nordic countries and has seen rapid expansion around the world, through acquisitions. It now has more than 1.7 million subscribers (with more than one million in the Nordics) and operates in 25 countries, including Brazil, India, Israel, Spain, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates.
“I have been impressed by Audiobooks.com’s success, expertise and experience in the U.S. market, as well as across the U.K. and Australia,” said Jonas Tellander, CEO and founder of Storytel. ” 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.”
Ian Small, general manager at Audiobooks, will continue to oversee the company and sees more rapid growth ahead. “With the combined industry expertise of Storytel and Audiobooks.com, we will continue to fuel the passion and interest of the English-speaking audiences and take our service to the next level,” he said in a statement.
The Storytel announcement came one day after another giant Swedish streaming company, Spotify, announced it had reached an agreement to buy Findaway to accelerate its expansion into the U.S. audiobook market.