US: Spotify will now host paid audiobooks – Is there enough demand for this format in the market?
September 30th, 2022, Shinmin Bali

US: Spotify will now host paid audiobooks – Is there enough demand for this format in the market?

A library of 300,000 titles of audiobooks have found a home on Spotify. Currently only available in the US market, the audiobooks are individually priced. They are an addition to a mix of music and podcasts on the audio streaming platform.

But are there enough takers for audiobooks among Americans?

According to YouGov Profiles - which covers demographic, psychographic, attitudinal and behavioral consumer metrics – Spotify’s customers currently prefer buying physical books over audiobooks. Over the last year, 43% of the platform’s customers have purchased physical hardcover books, while a quarter (26%) have bought paperbacks. Audiobooks follow at 20%. Among the general US population, audiobooks were purchased by 13% of Americans and physical hardcover books were bought by 35%. Across the board, Spotify customers appear to have more appetite in books than the general US population.

Aside from purchasing, when asked about the type of books Spotify’s customers typically read and consume in general, it was found that 34% and 35% typically read and consume physical hardback books and physical paperback books, respectively. Audiobooks are only typically read and consumed by 15% of Spotify’s current customers.

Another notable player in the audio content space is Audible, which is an online audio and podcast service – and a subsidiary of Amazon. Amazon and Audible offer a trio of music, podcasts and audiobooks, and as per Profiles, currently 12% of Spotify’s customers purchase audiobooks from Audible.

The individually priced audiobooks on Spotify aren’t bundled with a subscription. Buying them also currently requires leaving the app environment to purchase on a web browser before returning to the app. For the platform’s customers, this experience will be unusual, and an additional cost for paying subscribers. It then remains to be seen how Spotify fares in getting its current customers interested enough to pay for audiobooks on its platform – especially when it would mean for a majority of its customers to switch preferences from physical to audio books.

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Methodology: YouGov Profiles is based on continuously collected data and rolling surveys, rather than from a single limited questionnaire. Profiles data for US is nationally representative and weighted by age, gender, education, region, and race. Learn more about Profiles.