Swedish furniture giant Ikea's catalog is marking its 70th birthday this year. To celebrate, and in keeping with its appetite for the quirky, the company has added an audio edition of this year’s version, which is available on Spotify, Audiobooks.com, and YouTube. Running three hours and forty minutes, Ikea describes the audio catalog as "the same Ikea catalog you know and love, now as a handy, and hands-free, audiobook."
"Not only does this catalog save on paper, it’s also contactless, convenient, and filled with style inspiration and vivid product descriptions for your listening pleasure," the company adds.
If you check the YouTube playlist for the Ikea audiobook, you'll notice a prologue and 13 chapters. The length of each chapter varies, as does the topic, with some being as short as 10 minutes while others are almost half an hour. From decorating your kitchen to designing the perfect oasis for your bedroom, Ikea’s audiobook gets descriptive and instructional in each clip.
Soothing sounds — So far, the name of the friendly-sounding narrator in Ikea's audio catalog remains a mystery. But her sonorous tone is welcoming and helpful. "Let me personally assure you that it is real," she says in the prologue. "We know that by now, you’ve probably binged through every possible podcast, audiobook, and ‘Best of 2020’ playlist there is, so maybe you could use some new soothing sounds to put on while we all continue waiting for normal life to get back to, yeah, normal. You can think of this audio piece as a tour for your ears."
Although Ikea does not specifically mention the audiobook as an initiative to offer accessibility to customers with visual impairments, this audio guide works well for that, too.
Even better than the digital thing — If you open the digital visual catalog, look at the first page, and also listen to the prologue at the same time, you will notice how comprehensive the narrator's description is. From detailing the sunlight falling on the bed to highlighting how the wall behind the bed is gray and textured, a customer can get exhaustive descriptions of Ikea’s latest decor. The narrator also mentions how much the products cost.
In December, Ikea announced it was discontinuing its print catalog. The retailer said it was "an emotional but rational" move. With this audiobook, however, the Swedish company is making sure it stays relevant. And useful.