Spotify’s still relatively new audiobook service is expanding into Canada, the company announced today, bringing the experience to both English and French-speaking customers. Launched last fall, Spotify initially only debuted audiobooks for US users with a catalog of some 300,000 titles. Later in November, the option to buy audiobooks to other English-speaking markets was rolled out.
With today’s expansion, Spotify says its catalog has grown to 350,000 titles, but it hasn’t yet shared how many Spotify users have expressed interest in audiobooks or purchased titles. Instead, the company noted that it is “seeing positive engagement,” without sharing any kind of statistic about what that might look like.
However, customers may find the process of purchasing an audiobook through Spotify more difficult than it should be due to how the company tries to circumvent the in-app purchase requirements of the app stores to avoid paying commissions . Instead of being able to tap to make an in-app purchase, Spotify informs customers that they “can’t buy audiobooks in the app,” without directing them to the website where the books can be purchased. This is to avoid violating the app store rules around steering, i.e. encouraging customers to buy directly from the company over the web, rather than through in-app purchases.
Instead, customers can only click a green “Got it” button after seeing the message that they can’t buy books in the app. That probably reduces the number of possible sales, as it requires many more extra steps to buy and frustrates potential consumers.
At launch, Spotify had touted the potential to tap into a growing market of audiobooks, audiobooks accounted for only a 6-7% share of the broader book market and the category is growing at a 20% annualized rate. Plus, the addition provides more fuel for Spotify’s recommendation engine, as the company can learn more about a user’s interests based not only on the music they like and the podcasts they follow, but also on the books. which they read.
The company recently debuted a Spotify app refresh aimed at improving recommendations through TikTok-style feeds that provide previews of the audio content, including audiobook clips. However, these changes have not yet reached all customers, so it remains to be seen whether they will actually increase audiobook sales.
Spotify’s expansion into Canada will make the audiobook service itself available in French, but it hasn’t necessarily expanded its catalog of French books. The company told us dMost of the catalog is in English, but for some time there has been a selection of titles in other languages in the various supported markets (US, UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand). We understand that it has “slightly” expanded its catalog of French titles leading up to this launch.