JEDDAH: Arabic speakers around the world can now enjoy a world of audiobooks in different genres thanks to Sebastian Bond, the young Swedish man behind “Kitab Sawti,” the world’s largest Arabic audiobooks platform.
Bond told Arab News that he launched his startup business in 2016 as a project to support Syrian children who had recently moved to Sweden. “I wanted to help them preserve their Arab identity while being integrated into our society,” he said.
The Kitab Sawti application works with major publishers of Arabic books and focuses on the most popular books, written by renowned authors.
Bond was working as a marketing adviser for a Swedish company that produces books for school students when he noticed a great demand for Arabic audiobooks, especially from Arab students in public schools.
“The Arabic language is the second-most popular language in Sweden because of the large number of Syrian refugees who have been given asylum over the past five years. Many scholars tried to provide Arabic audiobooks to students but they could not because there were none. That is why I decided to quit my job and with my partner start the Kitab Sawti business,” he said.
Bond wants to build the largest audiobook library in the Arab world and provide readers with varied and inspiring content, including children’s books and bestselling novels.
Hanan Al-Otaibi, a young Saudi woman, has joined the Kitab Sawti user-experience research and works with the company.
“Listening to a book is a good investment in one’s time, especially while driving or doing certain work,” she said.
“Audiobooks are a good alternative for reading a book but can never replace reading. It saves time and effort and helps you to learn about books by listening to them. The application provides easier access to a huge number of books anytime, anywhere,”
Audiobooks are a good alternative for reading a book but can never replace reading. It saves time and effort and helps you to learn about books by listening to them. The application provides easier access to a huge number of books anytime, anywhere.
She said that Kitab Sawti had better content than other similar websites because it included books covering different subjects such as sociology, history and sciences, as well as novels.
One of the attractive features of the application is its summaries of books for professionals and employees who do not have time to listen to a whole book. For example, a four-hour book can be shortened to 30 minutes.
Bond believes that his employees are the real heroes and the most important asset he has. That is why he always works to create a conducive environment that attracts the most talented people and makes them experience an enriching culture with an Arab-Swedish touch.
“We only believe in the power of the team. Having talented people on our team makes our job more inspiring to everyone. We grow everyday. We hire people through LinkedIn,” he said.
Kitab Sawti employs people of all ages, whether new authors or narrators.
The audiobooks are available in different voices and dialects, and offer inspiring stories and content. Bond said that this achievement would not have been impossible without the help of authors and narrators, who have invested a lot of time and effort despite their other commitments.