By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson
‘A Seamless Experience’As Publishing Perspectives readers will recall, Beat Technology, based in Bergen, specializes in creating digital content platforms customized to the needs of various companies.
With the news that Germany’s whimsically named Skoobe.de is adding audiobooks to its offer, we’ve learned that Beat Technology is the company partnered with it for the audio development.
Skoobe refers to itself as a “digital library for smartphones and tablets” and was founded in 2012. As such, it counts itself the “most established” provider of ebook subscriptions in the German-language markets, with what the company says is “a high-quality catalogue of German and English titles from more than 4,800 publishing partners.”
Users access Skoobe through an app (iOS and Android) on their smartphones, tablets, and “selected e-readers”—that phrase being inclusive of the Kindle Fire tablets as well as iPhone and iPad.
Perhaps “hearing the handwriting on the wall,” if you will—as audiobooks have continued during the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic to find traction in many markets—Skoobe has added “tens of thousands of audiobook titles,” according to media messaging from Munich, with “a wide selection of current titles and bestsellers from all genres” in “fiction, nonfiction, and guidebooks.”
The participation of Beat Technology is somewhat different in this case than in past instances, which were operations set up with publishing houses. In this case, Beat is working with a standing digital service, and so has created what Beat calls “a seamless partnership” bolted onto the ebook offer.
The UK-based strategist with Beat Technology, Nathan Hull, tells Publishing Perspectives, “With Skoobe being so well-established and successful in the ebook subscription market in Germany–and Beat Technology’s experience in audiobook streaming–it made perfect sense to partner with each other to create a dual-format platform.
“Our two teams have worked side-by-side during spring and summer to integrate Beat’s audio SDK”—software development kit—into Skoobe’s existing environment to provide a seamless experience for German customers.”
Users who want to add audiobooks to their “Reading and Listening” subscription are paying €19.99 (US$23.74) monthly for unlimited access to both formats.
In a prepared statement from Skoobe’s managing director Julian Wahl, we read, “Our subscribers can now use Skoobe even when they don’t have their hands free or have to do something else on the side.
“For example, an audiobook can be listened to well when cleaning up or on the road. After a long day at work, you can also draw inspiration from new stories, relax your eyes, and concentrate fully on listening.”
It will be interesting to see how much of the response Skoobe has to its new audiobook offer is related to pandemic-era subscription patterns. A question many in world publishing are asking is whether the conditions and mitigation efforts around the contagion may be accelerating digital trials and/or adoption among consumers who might normally opt for print.
The associated question, then, of course, is how much such consumers might continue with digital products in our vaccinated future. Are the demands of the moment, in other words, contributing to user preferences ahead?
In its 7:26 a.m. ET update today, September 14 (1126 GMT), the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center sees the German market with 262,376 cases of COVID-19 in a population of 83 million. Its fatalities count stands at 9,356.
A Sunday report in the Guardian by Jedidajah Otte indicates that the UK has begun sending coronavirus tests to Germany as well as Italy, because British labs are overwhelmed.
And as Germany grapples with its own caseload spikes, the Associated Press in Berlin reports, “Officials in southern Germany are considering imposing hefty fines against a 26-year-old American woman linked to a cluster of coronavirus cases in the Alpine resort town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, including at a hotel that caters to US military personnel.”
More from Publishing Perspectives on audiobooks is here. And more from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here and at the CORONAVIRUS tab at the top of each page of our site.