Who will win the audiobook wars?

Spotify’s betting big on audiobooks, and taking on Amazon in the process.

Today, audiobooks make up just ~$9B of the $140B global book industry.

Who will win the audiobook wars?

By 2030, that segment is forecasted to reach $35B+, and with so much growth expected, it’s no surprise the market is heating up.

With music and podcasts under its belt, and almost a year after acquiring audiobook distribution platform Findaway, Spotify recently launched its own audiobooks section, serving up 300k+ titles.

That puts it in Amazon’s sights…

… with Audible commanding the largest share of the US market. Still, it’s clear Spotify is uniquely positioned to take them on.

  • The Spotify Machine, as CEO Daniel Ek calls it, represents the company’s proven practice of bundling verticals “into a single consumer experience… that benefits users, creators, ad partners, developers and Spotify itself.”

Spotify has spent years oiling its music and podcast verticals. It dominates the music streaming market and claims to have surpassed Apple in podcast listeners.

Audiobooks make economic sense

Spotify is notorious for stiffing artists on royalties, but the streamer still spent ~$7B on music payouts in 2021. While audiobooks aren’t quite as attractive as podcasts, which have zero marginal costs, their margins are better than music.

  • For now, the company offers audiobooks a la carte, but it’s studying business models that involve advertising within audiobooks.

Parents may rejoice at the result, as users could potentially see more promotion for teen novels, and less for the latest Drake album.

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