There’s been massive growth in people listening to books in Scandinavia. Here’s what you need to know about the world of audiobooks in Norway.
Audiobooks are surging in popularity around the world at the moment. Norway is a relatively mature market with several listening options available.
Even better for foreign residents, there’s plenty of English language and other foreign language audiobooks available on the platforms.
What are audiobooks?
If you're not an audiobook listener, you may think of sets of CDs or even cassette tapes in your local library. That is how things worked years ago.
But digital technology and subscription models have transformed the availability of audiobooks, driving huge demand. Now, virtually everyone has a powerful audiobook store and player in their pocket!
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Listening to an audiobook in small chunks on the way to work or standing in the queue at the supermarket is the only way many busy people get a chance to read.
Compared with other countries, Norway has not seen a massive growth in eBook reading. This despite Norwegians being “veracious readers,” according to author Brian M. Talgo on the Life in Norway Show.
But according to leading industry journal Bok365, Norway’s audiobook subscription market was worth an astonishing $50 million in 2020.
Other markets that saw growth in eBook reading over the last decade are only now seeing similar growth in audiobooks. So why the difference in Scandinavia?
Why are audiobooks so popular in Scandinavia?
As with many other countries, the pandemic restrictions no doubt played a role. But the growth in audiobooks had started well before that.
Scandianvia is well-known as a relatively early adopter of technology, especially mobile computing. Just take a look at the mainstream use of mobile payments.
The Norwegian language book industry has kept eBook prices high and the lack of a local Amazon store means there are fewer options for buying. Norwegians do buy English language eBooks from Amazon or Apple Books to read on phones and tablets, but the quantities are not huge.
It's a different situation in audiobooks, where subscription-based companies have created huge demand for content in a very short space of time. The release of an audiobook is now just as important as the hardback and paperback.
So, if you’re curious about audiobooks, here are the best options available to you in Norway.
Almost unheard of in major book markets such as the US and UK, Storytel is a giant of the Nordic region. The five Nordic countries have a combined population of around 27 million. One million of them are Storytel subscribers!
If you live in Norway, it's impossible not to have at least heard of Storytel. Their advertising is everywhere.
Storytel offers a subscription model, whereby subscribers get unlimited access to books for NOK 189 per month. That's audiobooks and eBooks on the same platform. Family plans are also available.
It's pricey when seen from a US/UK perspective, but big readers will find great value here given the relatively high price of print books in Norway.
There are “thousands” of titles available in Norwegian, Swedish and English, according to the company. Of course, the English selection will be limited and isn't as extensive as a native English platform.
You can try out Storytel with a 14-day free trial.
Nextory is the “pretender to Storytel's crown,” according to trade website The New Publishing Standard. Recently launched in Norway, Nextory has seen quick growth.
Their pricing is similar to Storytel at NOK 189 per month for unlimited reading and listening. But Nextory also offers a limited monthly plan at NOK 139, along with more expensive family plans.
To see what the catalogue is like, the best thing to do is subscribe. They offer a 30-day free trial, which should give you plenty of time to decide if the service is right for you.
I can't go on much further without talking about the global leader in audiobooks. Although there is no local Amazon store, the Amazon-owned Audible is absolutely available in Norway!
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If you're a native English speaker or you simply prefer listening to books in English, Audible is hands-down your best bet. The catalogue of English titles is substantially bigger, but there are very few Norwegian titles.
Unlike Storytel and Nextory, there are no eBook titles on Audible as it's an audio-only platform.
International customers must use the Audible.com store. Individual titles are often pricey, but their subscription model works using a confusing credits system.
‘Audible Plus' is a catalogue of titles that you can listen to on an unlimited basis for $7.95 per month. Big new releases and other premium titles are available for credits. Audible Plus membership including one credit costs $14.95 per month, with two costing $22.95. There are different deals on offer for Prime subscribers.
Amazon offers a 30-day free trial of its Audible Plus membership program.
Other audiobook services in Norway
The three services above are the most popular audiobook platforms in Norway, but there are other options. There are many international stores such as Kobo that offer audiobooks in English for individual purchase rather than subscription.
In Norway, Fabel is perhaps the best known alternative to the big platforms. As with the other Scandinavian options, Fabel is subscription based. Plans range from NOK 139 to NOK 239 per month. A 4-week free trial is available.