"The conflict revolves around the value of books"
Since March, audio streaming service Storytel has chosen to hide all of Bonnierförlagen’s* titles from their Book Recommendation and category lists. For this reason, Bonnierförlagen suspended the release of all new, frontlist titles to Storytel. One of the contributing factors to the conflict is a fundamental difference of opinion relating to payment models for audio books between the two parties.
"Storytel is blocking its subscribers from finding and listening to our authors’ titles, a situation which we, naturally, cannot accept. In circumstances where our authors are being actively discriminated against, we need to change the rules of the game. We regret that the situation affects subscribers and audio book listeners, and we hope to come to a swift resolution", says Sara Börsvik, COO of Bonnierförlagen.
The cause of the conflict is the ongoing renegotiation of terms between the two companies. In talks, Bonnierförlagen has declined Storytel’s new offer, which entails lowering the authors’ income for audio books while also switching payment models away from the one currently used by Storytel for Bonnierförlagen’s authors and titles. In this new scenario, Storytel proposes to change from a fixed sum income for every book listened to, to a revenue share model.
"Revenue share means that the more titles subscribers listen to in any given period of time, the less the author receives per book/listen. This erodes the value of books in the long-term and makes it even harder for authors to earn a living by writing alone. As a major publishing house we have a duty towards our authors to ensure they are being adequately remunerated for digital books", Börsvik continues.
Bonnierförlagen’s frontlist titles are available as usual from other distribution and subscription services such as Adlibris, Bokus, Bookbeat, and Nextory. The 7,500 backlist titles already available on Storytel are accessible as usual.
"Our view is that revenue share as a model does not have a place in the Swedish book industry. What’s at stake here is the question of what a book is actually worth", says Börsvik.
* List of publishing houses in Bonnierförlagen