New audiobook platforms are launched to rival Amazon’s Audible | Books
A new audiobook platform that aims to create a “charming, welcoming and independent bookstore vibe” has been launched, as audio giant Spotify also enters the growing audiobook market.
Spiracle offers titles from a variety of publishers, but focuses on independent presses and offering a range of literary fiction and non-fiction, including books in translation.
Director Kate Bland said the aim was not to offer “every book that has ever been made into audio, but we are selecting what we hope will be a truly wonderful array of books and international translations”.
Spiracle produces a number of audiobooks itself in partnership with independent publishers and operates on a subscription model, with users paying a monthly or annual access fee. People can also buy securities on an ad hoc basis.
Bland said the company operates on the “basis that there are book lovers out there who want to go buy their audiobooks and be part of a literary atmosphere that’s all about the fun and the life and the world you can. have in the books”.
She said she hoped the company would succeed because of “people’s desire to have independent platforms.”
Spiracle officially launches on October 6 and isn’t the only new player in the region; last month, Spotify also began offering audiobooks to customers in the United States.
The streaming service has a catalog of over 300,000 audiobook titles, which users will need to purchase individually if they want to listen to them, even if they have a paid version of Spotify.
Nir Zicherman, Spotify’s vice president and global head of audiobooks and secure content, said the company had “always believed that the potential in audio was limitless” and saw a “substantial untapped market”.
According to Nielsen, which tracks book sales, “UK audiobook purchases experienced their highest 12-month period on record” between July 2020 and June 2021. Although they currently only hold a 6% share of the UK book market, Nielsen said the “format has certainly carved out a place for itself in the book market, especially after gaining a host of new fans throughout the pandemic shutdowns”.
Last year Spotify also bought Findaway, which was founded in 2005 and built Playaway, described as a “preloaded audiobook player designed for traffic”. It now distributes digital audiobooks and has a self-publishing platform for independent authors called Findaway Voices. Spotify’s purchase of Findaway has not yet been cleared by the US Department of Justice.
The audiobook market has been dominated for years by Audible, a subsidiary of Amazon, and other companies, especially smaller ones, have struggled to break through.
In 2021, the hibooks app, which initially ran on an all-you-can-eat £8.99 model, was shut down. The UK was its third market, but a note on its website said that “due to unforeseen circumstances, we unfortunately have to close our service earlier than expected”. Hibooks said the developers will be “working on a new platform to offer free audio content, including some of your favorite classic titles,” although there is currently no information on this.
There are a number of other smaller audiobook platforms still in operation, some of which operate through a subscription model and others on a title-by-title basis.
Among them is Storytel, which is available in 25 countries around the world, although the UK is not yet one of them. It offers over 50,000 tracks to listen to and uses a streaming model. It also operates under the Mofibo brand.
Audiobooks.com charges users £7.99 per month, with that cost covering one “premium” book and one “VIP” book – an exclusive selection book – each month. Users can also purchase credits to add to their subscriptions, one credit allowing access to an audiobook.