Spotify launches audiobook sales, facing off with tech rivals

Sep. 20, 2022 9:55 AM ETSpotify Technology S.A. (SPOT)AAPL, GOOG, AMZN, GOOGLBy: Jason Aycock, SA News Editor2 Comments

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Spotify (NYSE:SPOT) has begun selling audiobooks, marking its next step as the company looks to diversify beyond music streaming to become an audio destination - and squaring off with heavy-hitter rivals in Amazon.com (AMZN), Apple (AAPL) and Google (GOOG) (GOOGL) along the way.

The company launched sales of more than 300,000 titles to users Tuesday with a dedicated interface section, as well as adding audiobook titles to searches and into curated recommendations.

Audiobooks will show up with a lock icon on their play button, indicating they'll need to be purchased. Notably, Spotify (SPOT) will direct users to buy audiobooks through a mobile Web browser rather than the app, dodging the significant app store revenue cut for tech platforms.

That puts Spotify's offering on par with those book sales offered by the two major operating system providers, Apple (AAPL) and Google (GOOG) (GOOGL). Meanwhile, Spotify's acquisition of Findaway in June set it up to face off with audiobook subscription leader Audible (AMZN).

On Spotify, users will be able to download content for off-line listening, and it features automatic bookmarking as well as speed control.

"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," said Spotify's Nir Zicherman. "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."

Spotify's June Investor Day indicated its focus on turning around margin performance while pressing further beyond music (where it's the leader) into podcasts and launching in audiobooks - which CEO Daniel Ek called "an annual opportunity of $70B for us to expand and eventually compete for. And just as we've done in podcasting, expect us to play to win."

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