Spotify Takes Aim at Amazon’s Audible Service with Audiobook Access Tier

Before becoming one of the world’s largest retailers, Amazon is famous for starting as a humble online bookstore. They followed suit with projects like Kindle and acquired Audible under their growing brand umbrella. Both pioneered audiobook listening for millions while Spotify cornered the music streaming market. Now Spotify is coming for the audiobook market share too, after adding the feature in late 2023.

Spotify Expands Streamed Content

When audiobooks first landed, Spotify users could find up to 300,000 books through the app. That figure has doubled now, as Spotify seeks to make a new tier dedicated to book lovers. It represents further growth for the music streamer, as the company invests in streaming audiobooks to users’ devices. All streamed entertainment services are doubling down on such content, with on-demand video streamers continuing to strike cooperation deals while sectors like iGaming are expanding their game libraries across the board. Where possible, businesses are also moving into live content so users can watch sports in real-time or play Lightning Roulette, a live roulette wheel hosted by a real human being. For the audio streamer, broadening its horizons has led it to explore podcasting and now audiobooks, where it challenges the likes of iTunes and Amazon.

The initial Spotify expansion let both free and premium users buy books through Spotify. Premium members got a sweeter deal, receiving 15 hours per month of free reading for roughly half of their audiobook library –150,000 titles. Now in 2024, they are rolling out a new tier for those who are more interested in audiobooks than music streaming.

The Audiobook Access Tier

In the US, Spotify users can now check out the Audiobook Access tier for $9.99. This is cheaper than the premium tier since it’s targeted at literary enthusiasts who will use the platform for reading instead of listening to tunes. Like the premium plan, the Audiobook Access tier gives users 15 hours of undisturbed listening with the option to add more if they run out. However, being an audiobook-specific plan, it comes sans ad-free music. Readers can find their remaining hours in their account settings, allowing them to carefully allocate reading time when they are running low.

The audiobook tier is distinct from Spotify’s podcasting service, where users can subscribe to podcasts on an individual basis. Starting in 2015, reporting outlets like the BBC were unsure if Spotify could beat Apple at their own game. Now it’s the number one service for streamed audio, dwarfing Apple, YouTube, and even Amazon’s music divisions. Amazon’s bookselling credentials are much stronger, however, so there’s no telling if Spotify can carve out some of the audiobook market for themselves.

Competition With Amazon

When first unveiling their audiobook service, CNBC reported Spotify’s claims that 15 hours “should get you around two average audiobooks per month.” Now that they’re doubling down on audiobook content, some are calling it an aggressive move into Amazon’s territory. Comparisons between Audiobook Access and Amazon’s Audible followed, where Spotify’s plan landed squarely between Audible’s premium plans.

Audible plans start at nearly $8 with Audible Plus, which gets users one credit per month – one free title. Advanced tiers like Audible Premium Plus cost $15 for one credit with exclusive premium library access, or $23 for two monthly credits. Amazon’s catalog may be much larger, but Spotify’s proposition of two free titles per month may still attract readers looking for a deal. Thus, Spotify has certainly sweetened the pot for listeners who prefer books to music, but it remains to be seen whether this deal succeeds in capturing Amazon’s sizeable market share. 


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