A few months ago, Spotify rolled out audiobooks on their platform. I went to have a look at the selection and there were a few books I could get but most had an additional cost on top of my Premium account so I left those alone.
A couple of weeks ago, I randomly discovered they'd opened up their selection to Premium users. There were a whole bunch of books already on my reading list available for me to listen to so I excitedly started adding them to my library. It's been a few years since I read The Count of Monte Cristo and since it's an epic book to read, I figured an audiobook would allow me to make progress with the book whilst I'm doing other things.
15 hours in, the audio stopped.
I opened my phone to see:
Having not read a press release or anything, this was a bit of a surprise to me and also came with some frustration. I could either pay £10 for a further 10 hours of listening time, or just wait until next month (Spoiler: I'm not paying the extra £10).
Now, I'm assuming Spotify are setting their sights on stealing some of the Audible market share. They started out pretty well at getting this particular user almost completely hooked in. I've got a bunch of Audible books I've bought over the years but it's not an app I look at regularly so I forget it's there half the time.
Spotify gets used almost every day for music so I'm easily reminded that I also have audiobooks saved.
The sticking point is the listening limit.
For me, Audible's problem is that it's not included in Prime by default, which I'm already paying for, and the monthly fee effectively only gives you one new book a month to listen to.
For some reason, Spotify have rolled out a similar model, most books I've got saved average at around 10-15 hours to complete.
I've obviously no idea about what agreements they have in place with publishers so I don't know if there are restrictions at the publisher level, or whether it's just some arbitrary way to try get people to cough up more cash.
As a Premium customer, I can listen to ad-free music all day long with no restrictions. I often have sleep playlists going all night so the sudden restriction on audiobooks is at odds with my mental model for what Premium allows access to.
Audiobooks are "Included in Premium" but then they sort of aren't.
I blasted through the 15 hours over the course of two days. I got very invested in The Count of Monte Cristo and would likely have kept on going had I not been stopped. I've since gone back to spending most of my day listening to podcasts in Overcast, that's a good chunk of time Spotify could be snapping up.
If Spotify want to take away some of Audible's market share, they're not going to be a threat by offering similar restrictions of service.