Move Over Audible—Spotify’s Standalone Audiobook Subscription Service Is Here

spotify launches standalone audiobook subscription
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spotify launches standalone audiobook subscription
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Photo Credit: Jukka Aalho

Move over Audible—Spotify has announced a standalone audiobook subscription aimed at breaking Amazon’s dominance in the audiobook market.

Spotify’s new Audiobook Access Tier offers 15 hours of listening from an audiobook catalog of over 200,000 titles for $9.99 a month. The average audiobook is around ten hours long , so that price should be enough to enjoy at least one book a month. “With this plan and in one app experience, listeners can continue to tune into music and podcasts on our free, ad-supported service, offering a great option for literary enthusiasts who are looking for more audiobook-specific content,” the press release reads.

The new audiobook tier debuts at $1 less than the Spotify Premium music subscription, but still costs more than an Audible Plus subscription, which is only $7.95 a month. It’s also worth pointing out that Audible Plus allows anyone to binge as many hours of audiobooks as they can fit into a 30-day period.

Want to marathon the Harry Potter books? That’s certainly on the table. Doing the same with the Spotify Audiobooks Tier means you could listen to about a book and a half before you run out of listening hours and need to top up.

Spotify getting into audiobooks has also sparked some debate among audiobooks enthusiasts, who are champing at the bit for a new way to listen to their favorite books. “Stupid system. Either allow unlimited time to listen to a book or only allow one book in a specified amount of time. Whoever made up this hair-brained scheme needs a serious talking to,” reads one of the comments on the Spotify Community forums.

While Spotify is focused on becoming a one-stop shop for audio—its bungled podcast strategy and renewed focus on audiobooks feels like the company is distracted.

It currently offers 15 free hours of audiobooks listening, with ’10-hour’ top-ups sold as an add-on. The idea runs counter to Spotify’s original idea—all content available on an unlimited basis. If I want to stream Caravan Palace’s discography I can listen to it as many times as I want. But audiobooks come with artificial limitations that feels a bit like charging more for an all-you-can-eat buffet.

“Considering I pay a premium, if you’re going to roll out a new feature it should work the same way as the rest of your platform,” complains another user. “I’m not being charged for my music usage by the hour—why should audiobooks be different? 15 hours isn’t enough to read full-length novels. When did this become a micro-transaction game?”

Spotify’s audiobook listening consumes listening hours at the default playback speed rate of 1x. If an audiobook is 5 hours long and you listen to it at 2x speed, using only 2.5 hours to finish the book—Spotify still deducts five hours from your listening time.

Any rewinds of the book to catch material if you’re interrupted or your mind wanders also counts against you—introducing friction to the platform that previously did not exist. The music and podcast buffet is all you can eat, but audiobooks are strictly time-limited—15 hours for Premium users and 15 hours for the new Audiobook Tier.

For $14.95 a month, you get an  audiobook credit from Audible Premium Plus to use on whatever you want that month. Listen to the whole thing whenever you want, as many times as you want. Want to listen to the War & Peace audiobook—which is 61 hours long? You’re better off with Audible Premium Plus than indulging greedy Spotify the Hutt.