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Spotify will attempt to unseat Audible with free audiobooks for paid members

Published Sep 8th, 2023 4:25PM EDT
Spotify's new desktop app
Image: Spotify

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In its latest attempt to become the only audio streaming service you need, Spotify is reportedly planning to test a free audiobook bundle for paid members soon. According to The Wall Street Journal, Spotify is teaming up with some of the top publishers in the US on the upcoming pilot program. Those invited to test the new feature will be able to listen to audiobooks for up to 20 hours without paying more than they already do, sources claim.

The report also says that the test will likely be limited to English-speaking countries, such as the US, the UK, Australia, and Canada. There will also supposedly be a wide variety of audiobooks available, but the exact offering is still being finalized.

If the test is successful and Spotify does bring free audiobooks to Premium members, it would make the recent price hike sting a bit less. In July, Spotify raised the prices of all its plans for the first time since the streaming service launched in the US. Spotify Premium increased from $9.99 to $10.99 a month, Premium Duo increased from $12.99 to $14.99, Premium Family increased from $15.99 to $16.99, and Premium Student increased from $4.99 to $5.99.

Paying a dollar or two more for 20 hours of free audiobook streaming isn’t a bad deal.

Spotify began selling audiobooks in 2022. There are already over 350,000 titles available on the service, but they can only be purchased on the web. Spotify CEO Daniel Ek blames Apple’s App Store policies, as Apple takes a 30% cut of every sale from an iOS app. As a result, you have to buy audiobooks in a browser before you can listen to them in the app.

The free audiobook bundle would serve as a useful advertisement for Spotify’s audiobook store as well. Personally, despite having had a Spotify Premium subscription for years, I wasn’t really aware of the service’s sizable audiobook store until now. The free bundle wouldn’t be subject to Apple’s 30% fee, which means it could be offered directly through the app.

The bundle could also give Spotify a chance to compete with Amazon’s Audible, which has been the undisputed king of the industry for years. Knocking Audible off its perch might be a tall task, but that $0 price tag will tempt plenty of avid book listeners.

Jacob Siegal
Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.