Spotify is planning to offer its premium subscribers free access to some audiobooks as it seeks to establish itself as a provider of book content alongside music and podcasts.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the streaming service has been developing a pilot programme in partnership with major US book publishers via which it will offer premium subscribers access to up to 20 hours of audiobooks per month at no additional cost.
Currently, audiobooks are available on the Spotify platform on a pay-to-access model. However, within the app it's a pretty clunky experience, mainly because of the limitations on in-app purchases caused by Apple and Google's app store rules, with Spotify not wanting to use the Apple or Google commission-charging transaction systems.
Spotify has repeatedly told its investors that the potential profit margins on podcasts and audiobooks are better than music, which is why it has been investing heavily in growing those sides of its business. Although doing so has been costly and has therefore negatively impacted short-term profitability.
On audiobooks, it is going up against big bad Amazon. The WSJ also reports that Spotify execs have been trying to persuade book publishers that they too have an interest in breaking Amazon's hold over the audiobook market, which is why they should participate in this pilot project and help convince the world that Spotify is also a place to go for book content.