Bonnier is now inviting readers in Sweden to sign up for its ebook subscription service, Bookbeat.
Announced in October 2015, Bookbeat offers Swedish readers access to a catalog of ebooks and audiobooks for 169 krona (about $20 USD) per month, with the first month free. The catalog is drawn primarily (entirely?) from Bonnier’s catalog, but also includes international best-sellers such as a translated version of Stephen King’s The Shining.
The ebooks and audiobooks can be consumed in Bookbeat’s app for iPad and iPhone.
Edit: Or the Android app (this did not show up in my initial search, but Niclas Sandin pointed me to it. Thanks, Niclas!)
According to Bookbeat’s job listings, they’re also planning an Android app but it is still under development. And for that matter, the iPad app is also a work in progress. As you can see from the following screenshot, it has an orientation problem:
And yes, the app is in Swedish, but that was to be expected from the price, the pitch email I received, and the official announcement from October, which said that the ebooks would mostly be in Swedish.
Today’s launch comes in the wake of Scribd’s announcement that it was scaling back its “unlimited” ebook service, and limiting its subscribers to only three ebooks and one audiobook per month. Some might think that the smarter move would be to shut down Bookbeat, but Bonnier sees things differently.
Bookbeat CEO Niclas Sandin thinks there’s room for expansion in the Swedish ebook market. “Bonnier has seen how the market for digital books has grown,” he said. “Our primary target group are those who haven’t yet read an e-book or listened to an audiobook, or that they don’t have the time to read.”
As a wholly owned subsidiary of Sweden’s largest publisher, Bookbeat does have an advantage over Scribd.Its parent company has no interest in bleeding it dry. On the other hand, there’s also no guarantee that Bonnier will keep Bookbeat operational if it proves to hurt Bonnier’s other operations.
We’ve seen a similar situation with Hulu, and the tv networks and cable companies that own it. That service never lived up to its potential because its owners wouldn’t let it disrupt their existing business.
Will Bonnier make the same decision?
I don’t know, but it is worth watching.