Audio streaming giant Spotify has shown a keen interest in audiobooks – CEO Daniel Ek remarked in its Investor’s Day in June that audiobooks could have a gross margin of above 40%, similar to podcasts, and that the share of audiobooks was as high as 50% in markets with the highest penetration of audiobooks. Now, it is moving beyond offering music and podcasts as it brings support for audiobooks on its platform.
At launch it will make available to users in the US, who will be able to access to a catalogue of over 300,000 audiobooks, which will be present in a separate section in the app. These audiobooks will be recommended by Spotify editors and be available to subscribers, regardless of whether they are Premium members or not. In the future, the company plans to expand the number of audiobooks and enter different markets, and even use algorithmic recommendations to suggest books to users.
Users will have the option to purchase the books they want to listen to (they will show up with a lock icon on the play button), or preview them via web pages outside of the app itself.
Spotify will also let users download the audiobooks, so that they can listen to them offline, and the automatic bookmarking feature saves their place so they can easily pick up where they left off. Other features include the speed control, which lets listeners speed up or slow down the pace, and even a rating feature for those who want to share their opinion.
“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. Audiobooks are next to come into the picture because we see a substantial untapped market: While audiobooks represent just a 6%–7% share of the wider book market, the category is growing by 20% year over year,” said Nir Zicherman, Spotify’s Vice President and Global Head of Audiobooks and Gated Content.
“But what we’re really excited about is providing a great new experience for listeners—introducing audiobooks to an audience of people who may never have tried them otherwise. By bringing audiobooks to Spotify, we have the opportunity to both grow the space as a whole and enrich listeners’ lives,” he added.
Spotify has not been shy regarding its plans for audiobooks – in fact, it has been teasing us regarding the same for quite some time. Two years ago, it offered an audio version of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone that was read by celebrities, and later last year, it announced that it was testing a small “pilot” of audiobooks and had roped in some well-known names to read them.
The same year saw Spotify acquire digital audiobook distributor Findaway and announced that courtesy of its partnership with Storytel, their subscribers could link their account to the streaming service and access their books on the Spotify app.