In 1997, a curious device arrived on the American market: the Audible MobilePlayer🇧🇷 Its focus was very specific: the consumption of audiobooks. It held an incredible two hours of content, and with it you could listen to content downloaded directly from the world wide web🇧🇷
The product didn’t take off, of course. Several years later, Audible, the company that launched it, became the main player in the audiobook market, and was eventually bought by Amazon. At that time, there was no longer a need to sell a dedicated device. After all, the cell phone already solved the problem.
Thus, the Audible MobilePlayer has joined the K7s and CDs as platforms that audiobooks once depended on for listening. Today, the format is more mature and already fosters a market that, in the US alone, moved $1.6 billion in 2021. And who wants a slice of that money is the Spotify, which, in September, began investing in this segment. In the US and other English-speaking countries, there are already around 300,000 titles.
Makes perfect sense. The platform has already embraced podcasts, becoming one of the most relevant competitors in the sector. The potential for audiobooks is clearly there.
Spotify’s plans look ambitious, and the prospects are, to say the least, interesting. However, the beginning of its operation with audio books was not the smoothest.
The launch of the Spotify audiobook store was marked by a disagreement with Apple🇧🇷 One more, by the way, since the two companies have already been at odds on other occasions🇧🇷
The reason is in the App Store rules. They dictate that Apple takes a slice of transactions made in apps downloaded from its store – the famous 30% that generates so many controversies🇧🇷 Any in-app audiobook sales would therefore be shared with Tim Cook’s company.
Here it is worth pausing to clarify: yes, sale🇧🇷 In this endeavor, Spotify offers a more traditional business model, different from streaming. That way, the user pays for each individual title, and it is added to their library.
This has to do with negotiating with publishing groups that provide audiobooks for the platform. That’s what Antonio Hermida, Bookwire’s audio manager in Brazil, clarifies in an interview with technocast🇧🇷
Spotify even tried to dodge Apple’s fee: the user received a link to make the purchase directly in their email. From there, he confirmed the acquisition of the title. But even this is against Apple guidelineswhich led to protests from the CEO of Spotify.
The situation is a sample of what Spotify will have ahead if it wants to enter the world of audiobooks. Not to mention the competition you will have ahead of you.
There’s an Audible in the middle
If there is a name that today demonstrates strength in the audiobook market, it is Audible. With the robustness of Amazon behind it and an already consolidated track record in the field, the company is already present in several markets🇧🇷 Spotify, on the other hand, has just started expanding its store to other english speaking countries beyond the US.
Speaking of markets outside the US, Audible already has titles in Portuguese, although it has not officially landed in Brazil. But some movements in the market, pointed out in Tecnocast 269, suggest that it may be close🇧🇷
Antonio Hermida believes that this is the fight that tends to unfold in the coming years: Audible vs. Spotify. And he highlights some of the particularities of each one to attract users, including in Brazil.
On the one hand, Spotify is the biggest streaming music in the world. In other words, the users are already there. Added to this is the platform’s recommendation algorithm, which could cross data from musical genres and podcasts to generate audiobook recommendations for users. What Spotify has already built with its other products certainly strengthens its chances in the new market.
It turns out that, in addition to being ahead in several countries, Audible has Amazon’s structure in its favor. The company works with credits that the user exchanges for audiobooks, a somewhat confusing scheme, but nothing prevents it from being adapted depending on the context. Insert Audible into the bundle Prime, for example. With more products to tie audiobooks to, Amazon has more options than Spotify.
It will be interesting to follow Spotify’s next moves to gain traction in this new endeavor. There is also the possibility of trying to close partnerships with publishers for exclusive productions, yet another way of attracting and retaining users. The company used this strategy heavily with podcasts, by the way.
Anyway, it is a scenario still in formation, but certainly exciting for those who want to consume books also in audio form.