Actually, the Future of the Book Industry Starts Now

Spotify announces the addition of 150,000+ audiobooks to Premium

Another Seismic Shift

On September 20, 2022 (just over one year ago), I published an article titled The Future of the Book Industry Starts Today. In it, I announced that Spotify was launching audiobooks, its third official format (after music and podcasts). “For the first time ever,” I wrote, “any Spotify user in the United States can discover their next great read in our catalog of 300,000+ books, buy it, and listen to it across any Spotify-enabled device.”

Spotify’s September 2022 announcement

I described a seismic shift to come in the book industry. And while our first year of audiobooks on the platform has been incredible, it’s been nothing compared to what Spotify is announcing now, one year later.

Starting today, Spotify Premium account owners in the UK and Australia will be able to listen to over 150,000 audiobooks as a part of their Premium subscription. Rather than paying a retail price for an individual book, nearly half of the entire audiobook catalog on Spotify is now available to UK and Australia users as part of the Premium plan they’re already paying for. And yes, more markets will be coming very soon.

Friction Points

We’ve known for a long time that many points of friction exist in the audiobook space, and these prevent widespread consumer adoption. Among them are access, format awareness, cost, and discoverability. Combined, these substantially limit the number of people who have been able to listen to audiobooks in the world.

In 2008, Spotify launched its first offering to the world. The music industry was introduced to a revolutionary alternative model that allowed content creators to earn meaningfully while also maximizing the distribution of their content.

The company is doing the same for audiobooks now. Never before has the format been this accessible to so many people. And that availability will only grow as Spotify expands to more users in more places.

Looking Back

I joined Spotify in early 2019 with the acquisition of Anchor, a company similarly founded on the idea of solving the points of friction and maximizing the potential of the podcast format. Since then, I’ve seen the Anchor product evolve (it’s now called Spotify for Podcasters). I’ve been able to launch format re-defining features (like podcast interactivity and Music+Talk) to tens of millions of Spotify users. And starting a couple of years ago, I was fortunate enough to lead us into a whole new industry: Audiobooks.

Building the Spotify Audiobooks business has certainly been a highlight of my career. I’ve worked with hundreds of brilliant folks across Spotify, with wonderful teams that have joined the organization, and with publishers, authors, and platforms across the book industry. It’s been an honor being a part of this initiative and getting the company to this point.

And on top of all of it, through this job, I’ve discovered and listened to some truly incredible audiobooks. Some of my favorites I’ve heard in the past few months (all of which are available in our Premium offering today) include Cat’s Cradle, They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us, Nothing to See Here, and On Writing. (I’d love to hear your recommendations too if you have any!)

Looking Forward

Several months ago, I announced that I would soon leave Spotify to pursue other paths (I am, after all, a Hiker). Now that we’ve launched our addition of audiobooks to the Premium product, I’m officially moving on.

I believe today’s announcement is the start of an incredible new chapter for Spotify as a business and for the book industry overall. Users will now have access to more amazing content than ever before. Publishers will be able to achieve broader distribution than ever before. And, most importantly to me, authors will be able to have their work heard by more people than ever before.

I can’t wait to keep listening… This time as just a fan.