Spotify launches a $9.99/mo standalone audiobooks service for its free users

After adding 15 hours of free audiobooks listening to its subscription plan late last year, Spotify today is introducing a $9.99 per month option that will allow its free users to also access its audiobooks collection. The company announced on Friday its new “Audiobooks Access Tier,” which, similar to the service offered to subscribers, allows customers in the U.S. to stream 15 hours of listening from its catalog of over 200,000 titles.

With the addition, free Spotify users will able to continue to stream music and podcasts via its ad-supported service, but pay to listen to audiobooks without having to buy a Spotify subscription.

There’s not much savings to be had here, given that a Spotify Premium subscription starts at $10.99 per month for an individual plan — only a dollar more than the audiobooks-only plan. However, the move could allow Spotify to upsell audiobooks to customers who aren’t as interested in its music service, or who regularly use another app for that. It could also make the Premium product look more compelling.

In addition, the move gives Spotify a way to compete with Amazon-owned audiobooks giant Audible as it introduces a different model for audiobook listening. Instead of paying for Audible’s $14.95 per month subscription that offers 1 credit to buy a title from its larger collection including best sellers and new releases, users could pay Spotify $9.99 per month for a certain number of hours. 15 hours is fairly generous, as it often encompasses more listening time than one audiobook alone, if not two shorter books.

The company today also offered an update on the interest that free users have for audiobooks, noting that since launching audiobooks for its Premium subscribers, it’s seen a 45% increase in free users searching for and interacting with audiobook content each day.

Spotify In its most recent quarter, Spotify saw the second biggest quarterly gain in users in its company history, reaching over 600 million monthly active users, and over 236 million paid subscribers — up 15% year-over-year, despite raising prices in the U.S. from $9.99 to $10.99 per month. It also said that it become the No. 2 provider of audiobooks, behind Audible, but noted it was still too early to say what impact the service was having on subscriber momentum and other aspects of its business.

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