Spotify is doubling down on audiobooks as the music streaming platform hunts for new ways to attract subscribers following its troubled push into podcasting.
The Swedish company will offer premium subscribers in the UK up to 15 hours of audiobooks each month for no additional fees.
Users will be able to access a catalogue of more than 150,000 titles, ranging from classics such as JRR Tolkien’s Fellowship of the Ring to current bestsellers including Rebecca F Kuang’s Yellowface.
Other popular authors in the collection include Richard Osman, Stephen King, Yuval Noah Harari and Robert Galbraith, the pseudonym of JK Rowling.
The push into audiobooks comes as Spotify looks to new growth areas after its $1bn (£830m) foray into podcasting failed to pay off.
Earlier this year, the streaming company confirmed it had terminated a $20m deal for Meghan Markle’s Archetypes podcast amid reports the show had failed to meet performance targets.
The group also lost its exclusive contract with Barack and Michelle Obama, while its blockbuster deal with Joe Rogan has been plagued by controversies.
Spotify reported a €39m hit on podcasts in the second quarter and has made heavy cutbacks in the division, laying off hundreds of staff members.
The renewed focus on audiobooks suggest the tech giant is now turning to a different audio format to help boost subscriber numbers and reduce its reliance on the music industry.
Alex Norstrom, Spotify’s chief business officer, described the audiobook offer as “super, super compelling”.
He said: “We know that the [number of] people who listen to audiobooks is probably in the tens of millions, so there’s so much opportunity here for audiobooks to grow.
“By putting this very compelling offering together and serving it to this scale user base of over 220m subscribers, we believe that we are really addressing an interesting opportunity.”
Spotify began offering audiobooks in the UK late last year as it launched a challenge to Amazon-owned Audible, which is the largest player in the market.
Until now, users have been able to purchase individual titles, with Spotify directing downloads through its own website due to an ongoing row with Apple over fees on in-app purchases.
The update means paying subscribers will be entitled to 15 hours free each month, equivalent to roughly two audiobooks of average length. Users can then purchase additional 10-hour allocations as top-ups when needed.
Spotify has partnered with the world’s largest book publishers for the audiobooks service, including Harper Collins, Penguin Random House and Hachette.
The offer is initially available only to subscribers in the UK and Australia, but is expected to be rolled out in other English-speaking countries.