After several moves that indicated this day was coming, Spotify has officially added audiobooks as yet another listening option in its app. Starting today, users in the US will have a dedicated section for the format that allows standalone purchases via a web link. At launch, the company says its library will contain over 300,000 titles.
In addition to their own section alongside music and podcasts, audiobooks will show up in your recommendations on the main page. When you dive into the audiobooks tab, you'll see a collection of picks from Spotify at launch. Over time, this section will be tailored to your activity just like any other content that's recommended for you on the service. The service's library of titles will also show up in search results like artists, albums, songs and podcasts already do.
When you select an audiobook, you'll see a lock icon on the play button that indicates you haven't yet purchased the title. If you decide to do so, a link will boot you out to a browser to complete the transaction before beaming you back to Spotify to start listening. Any purchased titles will automatically appear in your library and will be available for offline listening. Just like podcasts, the service will offer speed controls so you can listen at your preferred pace.
Spotify has been heading down this path for quite a while. The service offered an audio version of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone read by various celebrities in the spring of 2020. In a test early last year, the company added a selection of public domain books in the spoken word format — again read by a roster of famous names. Spotify then announced that Storytel subscribers would be able to link their account to the streaming service as the audiobook platform was is one of the first major publishers to take advantage of Spotify's Open Access Platform (OAP). The tech allows publishers and creators to stream their content through Spotify while using their existing login system. In November, Spotify acquired Findaway, an audiobook platform with over 325,000 titles and tools for creators. That was seemingly the last piece of the puzzle.
Spotify is clear this is "the first iteration"of audiobooks on its platform. The company plans to take notes and see what needs to be changed before expanding to other markets. It also wants to "innovate the format" so that listeners, authors and publishers benefit more from what the format can offer.