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Audible bets on local languages for growth in India

Audible Suno is an India-first app that offers more than 100 audio stories and podcasts for free in English and Hindi

Audible, a part of e-commerce giant Amazon, is working on adding more Indian languages to its ‘Suno’ service, that offers audio stories and podcasts, as the company looks to further strengthen its position in India.

Audible had entered India in November 2018, with a range of audio books and now has over 2 lakh titles available in the country. In December last year, it launched Audible Suno – an India-first app – that offers more than 100 audio stories and podcasts for free in English and Hindi.

“Suno is available in just Hindi and English so far, and we have purposefully focused on those two languages because we do not see too much value in doing anything that’s half baked and do not want to spread our efforts too thin.

“No doubt we are working on expanding Suno to other Indian languages. I think that would take our audience expansion to other states as well,” said Audible Country Head (India) Shailesh Sawlani.

While he did not comment on the timeline for new languages to be added, Sawlani said the company is “working on spinning up something that is comprehensive enough for a start and continues to build from there“.

“I think all the buzz is around regional languages. A lot of the consumers have come online recently and there is a dearth of (regional) content (the kind that we offer). So, we obviously have our eyes on that,” he said.

Some of the new Audible Suno titles include Anand Ki Aur with Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Uncovidable in Hindi by Rasika Dugal, Yuvaaon ke Liye Chanakya, Zen: A Way of Life by Om Swami, Shiv Purana Devdutt Pattanaik Ke Saath, Suno Mahabharat Devdutt Pattanaik ke Saath and What a Match with Harsha Bhogle.

Talking about the Indian market, he said the country is among the fastest growing regions for the company. “The market is young (for us)… but I think from a relative sense, it has been one of our fastest growing countries globally,” he said.

He added that a big focus area for the company in India is to enhance awareness about the service.

“In terms of growth, awareness is going to continue to be a big focus for us… We work collaboratively (for content) and being part of the Amazon family drives a lot of the discovery and growth… We’re doing a lot of India-first things and we’ll continue to continue to do that in 2021 as well,” Sawlani said.

Audible is present in 10 countries including the US, the UK, Japan, India, Australia, Germany, Spain, Canada, France and Italy.

The subscription-based Audible service allows users to buy audiobooks – like a physical or e-book – in various Indian languages.

Some new Audible titles include One Arranged Murder by Chetan Bhagat, Dil Local by Divya Prakash Dubey and Rakesh Kayasth, The Vedas and Upanishads for Kids by Roopa Pai, The Alchemist in Hindi translated by Anu Singh, A Promised Land by Barack Obama, Queeristan by Parmesh Shahani, Think Like a Monk by Jay Shetty and Hidden in Plain Sight by Jeffrey Archer.

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