Spotify Expands Its Premium Audiobooks Offer: Canada, Ireland, New Zealand

In News by Porter Anderson

As Bologna Book Plus prepares to stage its first Audio Forum, Spotify’s audiobook catalogue jumps from 200,000 t0 250,000 titles.

Listening while waiting for a vaporetto on the Grand Canal in Venice. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Andy Parker72

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

‘Tens of Millions to Audiobook Publishers’
Released today (April 2) to the news media, Spotify has announced that its “audiobooks for premium” offer is to roll out in Canada, Ireland, and New Zealand on Tuesday (April 9), the second day of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair (April 8 to 11). As it happens, that’s the day before Bologna Book Plus directed by Jacks Thomas will stage its first Audio Forum. (We’ll repeat the basic schedule of events for you below.)

Spotify announced its United States opening of its audiobooks offer early in November. It had first been initiated a month earlier, in October, in the United Kingdom and Australia.

The program offers a premium subscriber 15 hours of audiobook listening monthly free of charge. When the program reached the States, the UK, and Australia, there were some 200,000 titles available from which subscribers could choose to listen. Today that catalogue has expanded by 50,000 to a total 250,000, the company tells members of the news media, and the company says that since its UK/USA/Australia opening in the autumn, Spotify “has already paid out tens of millions to audiobook publishers who, in turn, pay authors in their repertoires.”

Ironically, Spotify does not appear to be an exhibitor at Bologna, although we count more than 45 companies listed as exhibiting with at least a partial interest in audiobooks.

And not everyone in publishing is chasing Spotify down the street for audiobook sales, of course.

Richard Charkin

Our columnist Richard Charkin, in February, wrote, “Is the offer of 15 hours a month of free audiobooks to Spotify customers a longer-term benefit to sales? What proportion of audiobook listeners actually listens to more than 15 hours a month?

“There will be some, of course, and Spotify might indeed increase the numbers of the hard-core audience but what happens to the rest?”

Still too soon to know about that hard-core audience—or the rest—we watch as Spotify continues to widen its international offer of limited audiobook access with bracing announcements like today’s. After all, no one has yet accused the company of modesty, and Spotify continues to come-hither the publishing industry with the promise of far-flung eardrums.

“As the world’s most popular audio streaming subscription service,” today’s Spotify announcement says, “with more than 602 million users, Spotify’s reach of possible new audiobook listeners has the potential to greatly grow the size of the industry overall and enable more listeners than ever to discover and engage with books. With the audiobook industry experiencing a 20-percent year-over-year growth as of 2022, making audiobook listening accessible to our international audience will contribute accelerating this industry growth.

“Making ‘audiobooks in premium’ available in Canada, Ireland, and New Zealand is the next step on that path.”

For those interested in audiobook and audiobook-related exhibitors at Bologna next week, here is the search we used to find the listings of companies including audiobook references in their listings.

Bologna’s Audio Forum Program for April 10

As our readers may recall, the Bologna Book Plus program plans its first “Audio Forum,” a roughly three-hour event, on Wednesday afternoon, April 10. Here are the announced topics and speakers on its agenda, which includes input from the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Germany, India, Norway, and the United States.

Sponsors of the event are RB Media, Bookwire, Zebralution, and Beat Technology.

2:20 p.m. Introduction and welcome

  • Jacks Thomas, BolognaBookPlus
  • Nathan Hull, chief strategy officer, Beat Technology

2:30 p.m. In Conversation With Amanda D’Acierno

  • Nathan Hull, Beat Technology
  • Amanda D’Acierno, president of audio, Penguin Random House (USA)

3 p.m. Multilanguage Strategies in the Global Audiobook Market

  • Miles Stevens-Hoare, managing director, RB Media International (UK)

3:15 p.m. Podcasts: Adaption to Audio and Back

  • Michele Cobb, executive director, Audio Publishers Association (USA)
  • Chiara Santella, founder, Studio Ochenta (Spain)
  • Sabrina Tinelli, Chora (Italy)
  • Carla Herbertson, founder, Small Wardour (UK)

3:45 p.m. Strategies for Effective Distribution and Monetization

  • Tina Jurgens, co-CEO, Zebralution (Germany)

4 p.m.From Digital to Physical: International Opportunities for Children’s Publishers With Audio Players

  • Carla Herbertson, Small Wardour
  • Eloise Elandaloussi, Tonies (Germany)
  • Jessica Tarrant (UK)
  • Matteo Fabbrini (Italy)
  • Jim Jacob, Story Button (USA)

4:40 p.m.Understanding Listener Behaviors Via Data

  • Giulia Lo Monaco, Bookwire (Germany)

5 p.m. Voices from the Diaspora

  • Nathan Hull, Beat Technology 
  • Ajay Mago, founder, OM Books (India)
  • Raúl Perez, head of digital, Grupo Planeta (Spain)

5:30 p.m. Networking drinks reception

More of our coverage relative to the 2024 Bologna Children’s Book Fair

More from Publishing Perspectives on audio in international publishing is here, more on Spotify and its relatively recent foray into audiobook streaming is here, more on podcasts and the industry is here, Bologna Children’s Book Fair is here, more on Bologna Book Plus is here, more on Bologna Licensing is here, more on Frankfurter Buchmesse is here, and more on international book fairs and trade shows is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.