Streaming Music Service Spotify Begins Selling Audiobooks

Spotify, the world’s largest streaming music service, Sept. 20 began offering more than 300,000 audiobook titles to its users to purchase.

The Stockholm-based platform with 182 million subscribers and 422 million monthly users worldwide, said users in the U.S. have access to a brand-new user interface that’s geared specifically for listening to audiobooks and fits alongside the music and podcasts links.

“We’ve been saying for a while now that our ambition is to be the complete package for everyone’s listening needs,” Nir Zicherman, VP, global head of audiobooks and gated content at Spotify, said in a media interview.

While audiobooks represent just a 6% to 7% share of the wider book market, the category, like podcasts, is growing by 20% year over year, according to Zicherman, who believes the platform can help introduce audiobooks to an audience of consumers who may never have tried them otherwise.

Major audiobook competitors include Amazon, Apple and Google.

“We see a substantial untapped market,” he said.

Audiobooks will show up with a lock icon on the play button, signaling that they need to be purchased in order to listen. Spotify app users will be able to purchase them on a Web page and the book will be automatically saved in their library and available to listen to whenever they want.

Listeners can download content for offline listening, and the automatic bookmarking feature saves their place so they can pick up where they left off. Speed control is also included, with a variety of options to speed up or slow down the pace. And for listeners who want to share their opinion after listening to a book, there’s a rating feature, which will display the aggregate rating of the book on social media platforms.

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“The offering available today in the U.S. is just the first iteration of audiobooks on Spotify,” Zicherman said. “We’ll learn a lot through this launch and leverage those learnings as we enhance the experience with new features, plan for launches in additional markets, and innovate on the format to benefit listeners, authors and publishers.”

Launched in 2006, Spotify posted a €39 million ($38.8 million) loss on revenue of €9.66 billion ($9.63 billion) in 2021, the latter up 22% increase from the previous-year period. The company has never posted a fiscal profit.

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