Several Swedish language sources have reported that Amazon has been quietly negotiating with Swedish publishers, and that the retail giant is planning to launch a local Kindle Store in Sweden in early 2014.
Late last month Svenska Dagbladet broke the news that Amazon was interested in the Swedish market. They posted a stump of an article which cited the trade magazine Svensk Bokhandel, and its source Claes-Håkan Johansson. They don’t include much in the way of details, but they do report that it is a widely held belief that Amazon was interested in that market.
And in addition to Svenska Dagbladet, there was a new article in Dagens Nyheter on Saturday. The article cites numerous sources in the Swedish publishing industry, including Christer Perslöv, the CEO of the publishing services company Bokrondellen. All are saying that Amazon is negotiating with publishers and distributors, with Perslöv stating that negotiations with his firm had been ongoing for a year.
Update: A reader left a comment with a better translation: “Bokrollenden is owned by all the biggest publishers and therefore has a monopoly-like position for book data there. They say Amazon has come closer in negotiations to Bokrollendens demands, before that Amazon had set “tough demands”. Both p and ebooks have been discussed.” Thanks, Jussi!
Several of the sources express interest but not fear. Dorotea Bromberg of Brombergs confirmed that her distributor had been approached by Amazon, along with several of her competing publishers though of course she was unable to name names. She expects Amazon to launch in the local ebook market, and she doesn’t know whether Amazon’s presence will be good or bad – instead she is described as thinking it could be both a positive and a negative (or so Google Translate leads me to believe).
Jonas Axelsson, CEO of Partners in Stories, foresees radical changes coming to the Swedish book market. He thinks that predatory pricing is the only way for Amazon to capture market share. Svante Weyler, an industry veteran before he started his own publishing company , also expects Amazon to be aggressive. He is concerned that Amazon might achieve a monopoly .
While no one has any solid info on when Amazon will launch in Sweden, the general consensus is that it will happen early next year. And from the way some of the sources are talking, Amazon might also be interested in selling pbooks as well as ebooks.
Aside from that last detail, none of this comes as a surprise to me; back in September 2013 I was the first to report on Amazon adding new language support to KDP, including Swedish. I suggested that the new support indicated that Amazon was interested in launching more local Kindle Stores.
According to the latest stats, Sweden has a population of around 9.7 million. While that is a relatively small market (compared to the English speaking world), Sweden is probably higher on Amazon’s list than you might think. This is one of 4 countries in the EU that have the highest percentages of consumers who buy paper books online according to a recent poll. With 38% of respondents buying books online, Sweden is right between Germany (41%) and the UK (36%).
Tell me, which are the 2 most developed ebook markets in Europe?
Sweden is also one of a handful of European countries that doesn’t have a fixed price law for books, so if Amazon does launch in Sweden there will be no law to stop aggressive discounting. Publishing contracts might block it, though, so I would not assume Amazon is going to be their usual rapacious self.