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Spotify launches new audiobooks service to take on Amazon’s Audible

·2-min read
 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Spotify has announced that it is now releasing audiobooks on its platform.

The streaming giant said that over 300,000 titles will be available for customers in the US, accompanied by a new interface specifically for the medium.

Audiobooks on Spotify’s platform will appear with a lock icon over the play button – signifying that they need to be bought. While users will be able to sample audiobooks in the app, all purchases must be made on the web; this is most likely so Spotify can avoid paying in-app purchase fees to Apple and Google.

The music giant has criticized the fees on numerous occasions, claiming that the policies are “arbitrary and capricious.”

Once purchased, users can download the book for offline listening, and Spotify has added other commonly used features such as speed control, bookmarking, and ratings.

“We’ve always believed that the potential for audio is limitless, and we’ve been saying for a while now that our ambition is to be the complete package for everyone’s listening needs,” Nir Zicherman, Spotify’s vice president and global head of audiobooks and gated content, said in a blog post announcing the move.

“Audiobooks are next to come into the picture because we see a substantial untapped market: While audiobooks represent just a 6-7 per cent share of the wider book market, the category is growing by 20 per cent year over year.”

Spotify says the audiobooks section will eventually be expanded with new features and launches in additional markets.

Spotify has been moving from music into other audio forms for some time now. In 2020, it launched video podcasts for free and Premium users and infamously spent $100m to make the popular Joe Rogan Experience exclusive to the platform. Megan Markle also released the first episode of her own podcast series, Archetypes, on Spotify last month.

On the technical side, Spotify consolidated the move by purchasing Anchor and Gimlet in 2019, and in 2021 purchased digital audiobook distributer company Findaway that helps amateur authors share their work.

Spotify’s move – making customers purchase at prices set by publishers – puts it in competition with platforms such as Apple Books rather than Amazon’s Audible, which lets users buy any audiobook in its library per month for a £7.99 flat subscription.