Shalu Wasu on Storytel, The Netflix For E-Books and Audiobooks

For the time-poor yet book-lovin' Singaporeans.

By Alvina Koh

June 26 2019

With over 800,000 global subscribers, Storytel has quickly taken Singapore by storm since its debut in April 2019. Hallmarked as the ‘Netflix’ for E-books and audio-related content, Storytel is committed to satiating the inner bookworms in every Singaporean with the accessibility accorded.

STYLEGUIDE speaks to Shalu Wasu, Country Manager of Storytel Singapore, to learn more about this upcoming application that aims to revolutionize the reading industry.

Understanding Singaporeans

When it comes to the likes of Singaporeans, convenience is top priority. Big companies have invested heavily in making their services accessible and intelligible to the masses, and Storytel is no exception.

With a penchant to offer local readers unlimited and instant access to 100,000 books, including top-sellers such as Becoming by Michelle Obama and Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari, Storytel is looking to become the go-to audiobook application for Singaporeans, who Shalu identifies are “time-poor”.

Becoming by Michelle Obama on Storytel 

“Singaporeans are rich in many ways, but they are time-poor. We are perhaps the busiest people in the world – in fact, a survey a while ago revealed that this was the case!”

Shalu tells us that in dealing with this time-poor issue, Storytel leverages on every waking moment by allowing readers to best utilize their time through multitasking.

Besides listening to audiobooks during moments of transit, which Shalu claims is an effective way to broaden one’s perspective in a fuss-free manner, one can also enjoy their favourite titles while preparing their meals or during an exercise.

In essence, the possibilities are almost endless when it comes to enjoying a good audiobook.

Singapore is also Storytel’s first debut in Southeast Asia. Helmed as one of the fastest-growing Southeast Asian states with a strong and modern IT infrastructure, Singaporeans are easily the most technologically-savvy people in the region.

With these basic groundworks in place, Shalu finds Singapore “ripe” for the audiobook and e-book industry.

This certainty also stems from the high smartphone usage among locals which makes them extra comfortable with making purchases online. The concept of subscribing to an online service is thus not a novel one for the local audience. 

Shalu, along with the Storytel Singapore team

Speaking from experience  

When compared to prevailing audiobook and e-book services such as Audible, Kindle and NLB Mobile, Shalu tells STYLEGUIDE that it is the ease of accessing Storytel that makes the application such an enticing one.

Having tried out some of the e-book streaming services, Shalu shares that Storytel aims to overcome these digital limitations with its one-stop service platform.

For instance, while current services may allow readers to borrow and access digital content offline, these services may restrict the number of titles ready for download. Likewise, the cost incurred for downloading more titles may deter readers from retrieving titles that are relatively pricey. 

In this sense, Shalu tells us that Storytel hopes to overcome the constraints presented by existing platforms by giving users the freedom to download unlimited books as and when they desire. Armed with his personal experience, Shalu is optimistic about Storytel's ability to stand out in the audiobook and e-book market.  

Adding that Singaporean flavour 

Beyond international best-sellers, Shalu shares that Storytel is equally devoted to putting up titles produced by local authors.

Through partnerships with homegrown publishers such as Marshall Cavendish, Epigram and Armour Publishing, the streaming service hopes to drive greater sales for inventive local authors less familiar to the Singaporean masses.

Singaporeans can also expect to hear local authors narrate their own books, which is an unprecedented opportunity for both Storytel and the writers themselves. In this aspect, Shalu excitedly points out the resources put in place for local authors to increase their visibility and outreach.

Besides renting high-quality studios to ensure that local authors receive the best facilities to put forth their content, Shalu shares that these writers will also benefit from the 800,000 global users available on their platform, who will be able to access titles originating from Singapore.

In this sense, Shalu claims that it is a ‘win-win’ situation for all stakeholders involved, especially for local writers hoping to expand their influence overseas.

The future is audiobooks

Shalu had never listened to audiobooks prior to Storytel, but he’s a convert now.

When chatting about one of his favourite books of all time, Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson, Shalu shares that he enjoyed the author’s reading of the book the most. 

“When authors narrate their own books, it just makes it a magical experience.”

Noting the rich baritone and nuanced enunciations provided by Tyson, also the host of Netflix series Cosmos, Shalu feels that the content of the book is better emphasized under such circumstances. 

When discussing Storytel's future in Singapore, Shalu is hopeful of the application's influence among Singaporeans of all ages. 

This is particularly so with features such as the Kids-Mode function, which automatically sieves out non-PG titles from the platform when activated. With this feature, Shalu assures us that children will only be able to access child-safe titles, which encourages them to explore the application freely without chancing upon restricted content. 

Likewise, with the multi-racial context in Singapore, the country manager shares that Storytel will only serve to complement the needs of the diverse community by providing titles in various languages, ranging from Bengali to Spanish. 

Along with the affordable $9.90 price tag, Shalu is hopeful that Storytel would become one of the go-to audiobook and e-book application for Singaporeans. 

With his understanding of the local tastebuds and demands of a bookworm, we can be sure to look forward to a series of exciting updates from the Storytel Singapore team. 

Interested in trying out Storytel? We've got you. 

Click here to enjoy a 30-day Free Trial on Storytel and gain access to over 100,000 titles! Simply download the books onto your application and listen to them on the go. 

Photos courtesy of Shalu and team.