The annual Riyadh International Book Fair is the meeting place for book lovers in the region, although it is the audiobooks that have become crowd favorites. This is again very much in line with the global trends where audiobooks have seen a surge in their popularity around the world. Many readers and publishers attribute the growing popularity of audiobooks to the pandemic, which people avoided outside contact with.
While print books have been hit the hardest by this trend, e-books and especially audiobooks have seen unprecedented growth during this period. The same is amply evident at the Riyadh Fair, where any bookstore offering audiobooks and podcast services draws the maximum attention from the crowd. No wonder the number of audiobooks shown during the show has increased sharply, which according to the Saudi Gazette amounted to 20,000 audio books in Arabic and 60,000 audio books in English.
Kitab Sawti apps have responded to the demand for audiobooks, which has become one of the world’s largest Arabic-language audiobook podcast platforms. Originally founded in 2016 by Swedish entrepreneurs Sebastian Bond and Anton Pollak. Kitab Sawti was acquired by Storytel in 2020.
With over a hundred narrators on its rolls. Kitab Sawti is well positioned to produce the largest number of audiobooks in the region. With Storytel, the company has grown into the largest and most comprehensive library of Arabic language audiobooks not only in the Middle East but around the world.
Wajeez is another company that has also established itself as a major player in e-books and audiobooks in the region. The subscription service provider for reading e-books or listening to audiobooks was established through a partnership between Saudi Arabia and Jordan and has a significant presence at Riyadh Book Fair . The company also offered attractive discounts to the delight of spectators.
Overall, the Kingdom may have been slow to adjust to the emergence of eBooks and related technologies, but seems to be catching up with the audiobook trend quickly. As it stands, people in most parts of the world seem to prefer listening to books rather than reading them, and Saudi Arabia is no exception to this rule either.
With a keen interest in technology, I make a point of keeping up to date with the latest developments in the world of tech and gadgets. This includes smartphones or tablets, but even extends to AI and self-driving cars, the latter being my latest fad. Besides writing, I like to watch videos, read, listen to music or experiment with different recipes. Cinema is another aspect that interests me a lot and maybe I will make a film in the future.