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Spotify’s new audiobook tier will only save you a dollar over Premium

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Spotify announced a new subscription tier that “gives booklovers more listening options.” But subscribers would only save $1 a month compared to the classic Premium tier.

The monthly subscription costs $9.99 and includes 15 free listening hours of audiobooks, the same as the classic Premium plan. But $10.99 Premium subscribers get 15 hours of audiobooks, plus ad-free music and podcasts — whereas the audiobook plan still has ads for music and podcast services. Essentially, audiobook listeners are paying nearly the same amount while getting half the benefits.

The audiobook plan also doesn’t add any additional perks for readers. If I were a big audiobook person, I’d probably want more than 15 hours a month, for example. But Spotify is capping the listening limit for Premium subscribers and the book lovers option. For $12.99, subscribers can buy 10 extra hours of books if they run out between billing cycles. The new tier almost feels like it’s simply upselling potential subscribers to the regular Premium option, instead of encouraging people who love audiobooks to subscribe for that service.

One benefit could be Spotify’s library of options. Audible’s basic plan, priced at $7.95 a month, only covers a selection of audiobooks, compared to the 200,000 titles Spotify is opening up. On the other hand, Audible allows for unlimited listening. A higher priced Audible tier at $14.95 includes unlimited listening to the basic plan library, plus one credit a month to purchase any book that you get to keep.

For months, anger has been brewing in publishing about Spotify’s treatment of audiobooks, especially around compensation. Some publishers like Macmillan told writers that royalty payments will only apply for each full listen of their book, according to Bloomberg — one person listening to a full 10-hour-long audiobook or two people each listening to five hours, for example. This is different from other models, where authors are paid for purchases of their titles, regardless of how much the listener consumes. Bloomberg notes that different publishing houses may have different terms with Spotify.

Some warn that the streaming model will result in authors being paid less as readers move from buying books to streaming portions of the work. Spotify has claimed it’s paid “tens of millions” of dollars to publishers since it first introduced the 15 hours of free listening for paying subscribers.

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