Spotify's new audiobook-only plan takes on Audible, but it just isn't cheap enough to be worthwhile

Spotify audiobook screenshots
(Image credit: Spotify)

If you're a Spotify Premium subscriber you already enjoy 15 hours of free audiobook listening right now with the option to buy books if you want to listen to them at your leisure. Now, the audio streaming company has announced that those who won't have a Spotify Premium subscription can enjoy the same 15-hour listening time — so long as they sign up for the new Spotify Audiobooks Access Tier.

The new tier, which is available as an option via the Spotify website, sells for $9.99 per month and gives users access to Spotify's library of content for a limited time. Users can of course also listen to podcasts and music for free but they'll have to make peace with the ads that make that possible if they want to go that route.

However, there's an argument to be made that they simply shouldn't. With Spotify Premium available for $10.99, some might argue that the audiobook-only tier is somewhat pointless when you consider that it only saves book lovers a single dollar. If they also happen to enjoy podcasts and music, Spotify Premium is a much better option given the ad-free nature of the beast.

$9.99 Vs $10.99

Spotify announced its new audiobook tier via a press release, saying that it is "continuously innovating to provide the best possible offering for every kind of audio fan." It goes on to say that since launching audiobooks as part of its Premium plan it's seen a 45% increase in free users searching for and then interacting with audiobook content. "Now we are introducing a new plan option to give our listeners a variety of choices," Spotify says.

Spotify's  Audiobooks Access Tier gives those in the United States access to more than 200,000 titles for $9.99 per month and, as mentioned, they'll be able to enjoy other audio content in the form of podcasts and music while dealing with ads.

By contrast, Premium offers the same audiobook features with ad-free podcasts and music thrown in which makes the new tier's $9.99 price point seem costly.

Spotify believes otherwise. "Spotify offers several subscription plans tailored to fit a variety of users’ preferences and will continue to invest in giving our listeners more options to cater to their unique needs," the press release ends.

There are questions left unanswered by the press release, too. It's unclear what happens when a user's 15 allotted hours have been exhausted, for example. There doesn't appear to be an option to pay for extra time, unlike Spotify Premium. That could be something that changes in the future, however.

Those who are waiting for Spotify's Supremium subscription are going to have to continue to do just that, however. There were no more details shared about lossless audio streaming or availability, nor do we know whether the audiobook-streaming offering will go global any time soon, either.

For those who just want to listen to their stories in audio form and either don't listen to music or are tied to another service for whatever reason, the audiobook-only tier might be a viable option of course. But for everyone else, it just doesn't seem cheap enough to be worthwhile — after all, how many ads do you need to hear when listening to music to be worth an extra dollar on your subscription fee?

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Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.