Today, Spotify announced the expansion of its newly launched audiobook service outside the United States. The service will now be available in other English-speaking markets, including the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, allowing users to access Spotify’s catalog of audiobook titles from the streaming app.
The company first launched support for audiobooks in the US in September, giving users access to more than 300,000 audiobooks. They can be discovered in the new Audiobooks hub in the Spotify app as well as in curated recommendations. Initially, Spotify editors would pick titles to recommend to users of the streaming app, the company said. But, over time, Spotify plans to use algorithmic recommendations to suggest titles to users — much like it does today with other supported audio formats, such as music and podcasts.
The company confirmed to TechCrunch that consumers in newly added markets will also have access to the same number of titles as those in the US (300,000+), but declined to share any metrics regarding the number of Spotify users who have taken advantage of this option to purchase audiobooks after launch. the service.
Similar to other audiobook apps, Spotify offers a standard set of features, including the ability to download titles for offline listening, rate titles, adjust playback speed, and listen across devices.
However, the implementation of audiobooks in the Spotify app leaves a lot to be desired from a consumer perspective. The company does not want to make titles available through in-app purchases, as it would have to pay Apple or Google a commission on their sales. This means that users first have to visit the Spotify website to purchase the book, pay Spotify directly, and then return to the app to physically access the title. Furthermore, Spotify does not link to its website through its mobile application. Instead, when the user clicks play on the audiobook they’re interested in, a message appears stating: “You can’t buy audiobooks from the app. We know it’s not perfect.”
Spotify CEO Daniel Eck, whose company filed an antitrust complaint against Apple with the European Commission nearly four years ago, pointed to the problem as another way Apple “does massive damage to the internet economy” and “stifles competition,” as well. wrote in a blog post about the challenges of serving audiobooks.
Other services have worked around Apple’s rules in different ways. For example, Amazon-owned Audible sells subscriptions and “credits” to purchase audiobooks via in-app purchases.
Apple, hoping to avoid regulation, updated its policy this year to allow “reader” apps, including audiobook providers, to link from their app to their website in order to allow app users to create or manage their accounts. Spotify implements this feature from the Account Settings section, where users can now view the plan they’re currently paying for and can tap other options to upgrade their plan or downgrade. This then redirects them to the Spotify website. Here too, the company tells users to “You cannot make changes to your plan in the app. We know it’s not perfect.” However, it does not direct users to the audiobooks section of its website from this settings screen.
Spotify said it plans to improve discovery of its audiobooks over time, as well as expanding the feature to new markets and offering new formats and new ways to interact with audiobook content. The company suggested that audiobooks could be a new revenue stream when it acquired digital audiobook distributor Findaway last year, saying the industry is expected to grow from $3.3 billion as of 2020 to $15 billion by 2027.
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