Bookwire introduces the “Odyssey” voice assistant: a virtual adviser that recommends the right audiobooks to streaming users

Frankfurt a. M., 16 October 2019 – Bookwire’s new development makes its first appearance on the Frankfurt Audio Stage at Frankfurter Buchmesse. Today (16 October) Bookwire GmbH introduced the voice assistant “Odyssey” – self-learning, algorithm-based recommendation and search software that enables smart speaker users to find audiobooks in streaming portals much faster, and takes into account their preferences. “Odyssey” will only be available for Amazon Alexa and Spotify users to begin with. 

With the new technology, which is also Bookwire digital publishing experts’ first development for the end consumer market, the Frankfurt business strengthens the position of its audiobook publishing clients on the rapidly expanding smart speaker market. The voice assistant will be presented for the first time at the book fair, and published during the fourth quarter of 2019. It will also be rolled out for other providers in 2020.

Virtual adviser for users who are interested in audiobooks

“We see our voice assistant as a virtual adviser for users who are interested in audiobooks, but don’t know exactly which title they would like to listen to next. Until now, the design of streaming portals hasn’t made it easy to search for audiobooks, and listeners quickly get lost in the baffling range. This is precisely where the technology of “Odyssey” comes in. Based on the individual user's preferences, it makes recommendations, plays audio samples and plays the audiobook through the user’s own Spotify account”, is how John Ruhrmann, Managing Director of Bookwire GmbH sums up the functions of the trade fair innovation.


The Frankfurt business creates special metadata that is required for optimum discoverability using the voice assistant. By expanding the audiobook metadata, Bookwire makes it easier for audiobook publishers to get a foot in the door of the rapidly growing smart speaker market.

“Odyssey” gives recommendations via a dialogue and can be used as search software

“Odyssey's” technology for end customers is based on the dialogue between human and voice assistant, as well as algorithms, so that it can make the best recommendations that, most importantly, are adapted to user behaviour. To this end, “Odyssey” connects to the user’s Spotify account, for example, – obviously only if the user allows this function – and analyses the user’s listening habits. The user can choose to use the voice assistant to search directly for audiobooks by a specific author, narrator or for a specific title – or to get recommendations via a dialogue.

The user’s preferences are ascertained with a maximum of four questions and recommendations are then given, with the option of playing an audio sample. The user can then listen to the recommended titles straightaway, save them in their playlist or continue playback they have already started. “By using algorithms, “Odyssey” offers distinct advantages over editorially maintained skills, because Odyssey’s recommendations are precisely tailored to each listener’s individual needs, based on their current interests and user behaviour”, adds John Ruhrmann.

To begin with, Bookwire “Odyssey” Version 1.0 recommends more than 1,500 German-language audiobooks from the stock of Bookwire publishing clients. New titles are continually being added to the “library”, which will be internationalised in the coming months. Likewise, new functions will keep being added to “Odyssey”, and the subsequent versions will also be available for additional streaming portals.

About Bookwire & “Bookwire OS – One Solution”

Bookwire GmbH was founded in Frankfurt in 2010 as a service provider for publisher distribution of eBooks and digital content. It has since become one of the leading international businesses in digital publishing technology. Bookwire currently employs 150 people in Germany, the UK, Spain, France, Brazil, Mexico and the USA, who take care of more than 2,500 publishers in the fields of eBooks, audiobooks, podcasts and Print-on-Demand. The pioneering software “Bookwire OS – One Solution”, launched in 2019, has delivered, analyzed and marketed around 800,000 eBooks and 200,000 audiobooks in all relevant distribution channels. In addition to the latest customer analytics and pricing technology, publishing clients of Bookwire GmbH also have access to individual support from account & marketing managers who look after the clients from end to end. In 2019, the audiobook production solution “We Audiobook You” (WAY) bagged the business the first “Digital Publishing Award” in the field of B2B solutions. Bookwire GmbH is managed by its founders Jens Klingelhöfer and John Ruhrmann, and has branches in Barcelona, London, Mexico City, São Paulo, New York and Paris, in addition to the company headquarters in Frankfurt am Main and the "Digital Hub" in Dortmund.