Spotify audiobooks are now harder to buy thanks to Apple

(Image credit: Spotify)

Spotify has given up its quest to make it easier for people to buy audiobooks and now tells people that they have to fend for themselves.

Spotify had initially been giving users a button that, when tapped, would email them a link to buy audiobooks outside of the App Store. Apple predictably didn't like that idea, and after various app rejections, Spotify has ditched the idea entirely after first complaining about the situation loudly.

Now, people who try to buy an audiobook via the Spotify app on iPhone see a new message — "You can't buy audiobooks in the app. We know, it's not ideal." The company stops short of pointing the finger at Apple, however.

Blame game

As The Verge points out in its report, Spotify's original idea of sending an email to customers clearly broke App Store rules. Spotify could have complied with those rules by making each audiobook purchase an App Store in-app purchase but chose not to. If it had, Apple would have taken a cut of every transaction — something Spotify was clearly unwilling to sacrifice.

Spotify's move into the audiobook world tightens its grip on the listening habits of millions worldwide. But it's Apple's tight grip on its App Store and the apps people download from it that is the key here. Unfortunately, it's the users who miss out and now have to go hunting to find the audiobook they wanted to listen to in the first place.

Once bought via Spotify's website, audiobooks can be listened to via the Spotify app without issue.

Apple offers its own audiobooks via the Apple Books app, of course, and the company would no doubt say that's the best iPhone audiobook-listening experience available to users. And they can buy books just fine, too.

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.