Spotify brings its new audiobooks service to Canada

Spotify’s still relatively new audiobooks service is expanding to Canada, the company announced today, bringing the experience to both English and French-speaking customers. Launched last fall, Spotify initially debuted audiobooks to U.S. users only with a catalog of some 300,000 titles. It later rolled out the option to shop audiobooks to other English-speaking markets back in November.

With today’s expansion, Spotify says its catalog has grown to 350,000 titles but it hasn’t yet shared how many Spotify users have demonstrated interest in audiobooks or purchased titles. Instead, the company noted that it’s “seeing positive engagement,” without sharing any sort of metrics about what that may look like.

Customers may find the process of buying an audiobook through Spotify more difficult than it should be, however, because of how the company is trying to work around the app stores’ in-app purchase requirements in order to avoid paying commissions. Instead of being able to tap to make a purchase in the app, Spotify informs customers that they “can’t buy audiobooks in the app,” without guiding them to the website where the books can be purchased. This is to avoid being in violation of app store rules around steering — that is, directing customers to buy directly from the company via the web, instead of through in-app purchases.

Instead, customers can only click a green “Got It” button after seeing the message about not being able to purchase books in-app. That likely reduces the number of possible sales as it requires many more extra steps to buy and frustrates potential consumers.

At launch, Spotify had touted the potential to tap into a growing market with audiobooks, that audiobooks represented just a 6-7% share of the wider book market and that the category is growing by 20% year-over-year. Plus, the addition offers more fuel for Spotify’s recommendation engine as the company could learn more about a user’s interests based not only on the music they like and the podcasts they follow, but also which books they read.

The company recently debuted a revamp of the Spotify app aimed at improving its recommendations by way of TikTok-style feeds that offer previews of its audio content — including audiobook clips. These changes haven’t reached all customers as of yet, however, so it remains to be seen if audiobook sales will actually increase as a result.

Spotify’s expansion to Canada will make the audiobooks service itself available in French, but it hasn’t necessarily expanded its catalog of French books. The company told us the majority of its catalog is in English, but there was already a selection of titles in other languages for some time across its various supported markets (U.S., U.K., Ireland, Australia and New Zealand). It did, however, “slightly” expand the catalog of French titles in the lead-up to this launch, we understand.