Bonnier shifts problem child Type & Tell to Adlibris

When Bonnier Books Nova launched Type & Tell back in 2015 the vision was to tap into the growing Swedish self-publishing market and cherry pick top authors for mainstream publishing.

It never really took off in Sweden (just 5,000 registered users) and in early 2017 Bonnier decided to try its arm in the UK, with the same vision. Tap into the self-publishing market and cherry pick top-selling authors for Bonnier UK.

In Sweden Bonnier faced little competition, with the Kindle store noticeable for its absence and no serious self-publishing aggregators to contend with.

In the UK the Kindle dominated both the consumer and supplier market, and British authors had the choice of not only KDP but easy access to Smashwords, Draft2Digital, StreetLib, PublishDrive and (at the time) Pronoun, as well as pay-up-front services like Ebook Partnership and Bookbaby.

Put simply, Type & Tell UK didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of lasting the course, and in fact closed its doors just eight months later.

How well was Type & Tell Sweden doing? As a minor arm of Bonnier Books Nova, there’s relatively little information on which to judge.

Bonnier Books Nova describes itself as a

division of Bonnier Books tasked to find new opportunities for books and storytelling with the help of digital and technical innovation. Headquartered in Stockholm, the home of media conglomerate Bonnier and an incubator for cutting-edge tech, we aim to explore the future of storytelling.

Passing Type & Tell to Bonnier-owned Adlibris, one of the largest e-commerce players in the Nordic region (operating in Sweden, Finland and Norway), doesn’t say much for Bonnier Books Nova’s confidence in the self-publishing service.

But we’ll have to wait until the transfer formally happend on September 1 to see how this pans out.

In a (Google Translated) press release Johan Kleberg, CEO of Adlibris Group said,

Self-publishing is something we’ve been watching for a while, as it’s a great way for writers to quickly and easily reach out to their readers. Type & Tell has one of the market’s most flexible solutions for this. We look forward to continuing to develop the offer, not least with closer links to Sweden’s largest sales channel for books. We also want to ensure a significantly cheaper offer for customers when it comes to getting the book printed.”

Adlibris asserts 1 in 8 Swedish books are currently self-published.

Sweden’s Boktugg take’s the view that the deal could potentially strengthen Adlibris’s hand for when Amazon arrives in Sweden.

Evidence mounts for an Amazon Sweden launch this year, but no sign publishers need worry yet

But, says Boktugg,

At the same time, the risk is that Type & Tell becomes a very small peripheral project within Adlibris, which previously failed to create an audio book service, which resulted in BookBeat being placed outside Adlibris’ walls.

It’s a good point. Why Bookbeat wasn’t made part of the Adlibris infrastructure is one of the mysteries of Swedish publishing. Not that it is doing bad on its own, but could Bookbeat have been stronger with Adlbris?

Perhaps the dumping of the problem child Type & Tell on the kind aunt is part of that cutting edge futurism Bonnier Book Nova prides itself on.

Time will tell.

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