Books

The Complete User’s Guide to Spotify Audiobooks: A How-To With Pros and Cons

Carolina Ciucci is a teacher, writer and reviewer based in the south of Argentina. She hoards books like they’re going out of style. In case of emergency, you can summon her by talking about Ireland, fictional witches, and the Brontë family. Twitter: @carolinabeci

On September 20, 2022, Spotify issued a press release about a much-requested inclusion to its catalog: audiobooks. Starting that same day, U.S. listeners were able to purchase audiobooks directly from the app. Over the following months, users in several other countries, such as Canada and the UK, had the same opportunity.

Just over a year later, on October 3, 2023, they announced that audiobooks would become part of the Spotify Premium package. This made Spotify a one-stop destination for just about all listening needs: music, podcasts, and now audiobooks.

But is it worth it? Let’s find out. If you have decided it is, in fact, worth it, but you’re struggling to figure out how to actually make a purchase or listen to an audiobook on Spotify Premium, let’s go over that too.

A note: Spotify audiobooks are only available in little more than a handful of countries, so check that yours is one of them before continuing.

How to Buy an Audiobook on Spotify

The first step is making sure that you’re on the web application, as you can’t buy on your phone app just yet. Go to the Search icon, then to the Audiobooks tab. You have almost 400,000 titles to choose from: once you’ve settled on one, click Play and select the Get email option.

screenshot of search tab in Spotify web app showing tiles for Podcasts, Audiobooks, and Live Events

After this, go to your inbox and look for the email that Spotify sent you. Click on Buy audiobook, and you’ll be redirected to the book page. Then choose Buy, follow the checkout process, and voilá! You have an audiobook.

While you can only buy a book on the web app, you can listen on any device. In order to ensure that you have access to it even offline, go to Your Library, click on the Audiobooks tab, and download your book.

Audiobooks on Spotify Premium

As of the October 2023 announcement, Premium users in the UK and Australia were allowed 15 hours of audiobook listening every month, with U.S. users joining later in the year. They were given access to a catalog of (as of now) 200,000 titles.

But how do you listen to an audiobook on Premium? Go to the catalog and look for audiobooks marked “included in Premium.” Hit play on the first chapter, and you’re good to go.

screenshot of Spotify audiobooks library showing three titles in their new and trending category included in Spotify Premium

Search and Discoverability

You can find an audiobook by author or title by typing it into Search just like you would for a song or podcast. Selections are also curated for you much in the way Spotify’s music is, with groupings by genre, author, mood, activity, and more. Some examples below:

screenshot of genre categories in Spotify Audiobooks on the web app
screenshot of New Year, New You playlist offerings of audiobooks on Spotify web app, with categories like "improve your relationship with money" and "learn a new language"
screenshot of Audiobooks of the Moment audiobooks playlists landing page in the Spotify web app

Pros and Cons

Cons

Let’s start with the cons: first of all, it’s regionally limited. Barely more than a handful of countries have access to audiobooks on Spotify. If you’re not in the U.S., Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, or New Zealand, you’ll have to stick to Audible, Everand, and a few other platforms for your audiobook needs.

The next issue is with Spotify Premium specifically: you only have 15 listening hours per month. This is a marked difference from Audible subscriptions, where you get a credit for a full book per month, regardless of how long that book is, as well as a ton of available audiobooks to borrow. If you’re into 19th-century classics (or George R. R. Martin), you know that 15 hours just isn’t going to cut it. For context, the audiobook of A Game of Thrones is a whopping 33 hours and 46 minutes long.

Another possible con to consider if you’re thinking of going with the Premium subscription solely for audiobooks is that not all premium accounts have access to this feature. Spotify Family and Spotify Duo plans only grant access to the plan manager, and those are limited to 10 hours a month. If you have an individual account, however, you can access 15 hours of audiobooks per month. But, in the pro column, you do have the option to purchase a 10-hour top-up.

And then there’s the issue that was, admittedly, my first concern when Spotify got into audiobooks: what it’s going to mean for authors. According to the British Union Society of Authors, authors and agents weren’t consulted on license or payment terms before publishers struck deals with Spotify. And since it’s a well-publicized fact that streaming sites have harmed artists, this gives me the biggest pause. Johnny Geller, an agent at Curtis Brown Literary Agency, said, “We do not want to follow the disastrous path the music industry went down.”

Pros

There are, of course, pros, too! If you have an individual Spotify Premium account in one of the aforementioned countries, you don’t have to tie yourself to any one book that you don’t know for sure you’ll love. You can try different audiobooks until you find the one that works for you.

As mentioned previously, you have the option to add more listening hours if the 15 included with your Premium subscription aren’t enough.

Another pro: the selection for Spotify Premium appears to be a good one, with 70 percent of its catalog comprised of bestselling titles.

There is also the convenience of having access to music, podcasts, and audiobooks all in a single app. If you listen to a lot of music and podcasts and up to a couple of audiobooks of average length a month, then you’re getting a lot for the price of your subscription.

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