As reported by The Hollywood Reporter, Spotify has launched a new collection of audiobooks on its streaming service, setting the company up for a battle against other audiobook providers like Apple Books and Amazon’s Audible.
The company says that the collection is a test to see how audiobooks perform on its platform, but if it proves to be successful, Spotify could see Audiobooks as its next front now that it is deep in the podcast wars.
The nine audiobooks that are now available on Spotify are all part of the public domain, but the original recordings are exclusive to the streaming platform. David Dobrik narrates Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; Forest Whitaker reads Frederick Douglass memoir Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave; Hilary Swank narrates The Awakening by Kate Chopin; and Cynthia Erivo reads Jane Austen’s Persuasion.
The other titles that Spotify is releasing as part of the collection are Jean Toomer’s Cane, narrated by Audra McDonald; Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, narrated by James Langton; Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, narrated by Sarah Coombs; Nella Larsen’s Passing, narrated by Bahni Turpin; and Stephen Crane’s Red Badge of Courage, narrated by Santino Fontana.
Each audiobook ends with an episode of “Sitting with the Classics,” where Harvard professor Glenda Carpio offers a deep analysis of each title.
The report points out that Spotify has a huge opportunity to get into audiobooks, a market that was valued at $2.7 billion in 2019 with little competition for giants like Audible.
Audiobooks present another large audio market for Spotify to go after. In the U.S., alone, the audiobook market was valued at nearly $2.7 billion in 2019, according to a report from Grand View Research. Audible, which calls itself the largest producer of audiobooks in the world, has faced relatively little competition in the U.S. and, in recent years, has begun to invest heavily into original programming and podcast content as well.
Spotify’s potential foray into audiobooks, especially if included in its subscription price, could be a big problem for Apple, which currently sells audiobooks through its Apple Books store. While the company does offer some titles for free, there is no subscription service for Apple Books and all titles must be purchased separately.