Spotify dabbles in audiobooks by offering nine public-domain works

Nathan Ingraham
·Deputy Managing Editor
·1-min read

Spotify’s aggressive move into content beyond music continues today, as the company is testing a small “pilot” of audiobooks on the platform. Specifically, nine classic audiobooks will be available starting today. This isn’t technically the first time Spotify has offered audiobooks, though before it only had a star-studded reading of the first Harry Potter novel. The nine new books are public-domain titles like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations and Jane Austen’s Persuasion.

Naturally, Spotify has again recruited some well-known names to read the books, including Hilary Swank (reading Kate Chopin’s The Awakening) and Forest Whitaker (reading Fredrick Douglass’s Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave). Besides the audiobooks themselves, Spotify is also including a complimentary “deep dive” on each book by Harvard professor Glenda Carpio. While these books are all public domain, the new recordings and the additional content from Carpio will be exclusive to Spotify; both free and premium users will be able to access these books.

Whether or not Spotify will take its interest in audiobooks beyond this pilot remains to be seen — recording and offering a small selection of public-domain books is a lot different than providing a large library of modern and classic titles. Spotify itself noted that it runs lots of tests, some of which are just for learning’s sake rather than anything that becomes part of the product. But given the company’s big focus on spoken word content with podcasts, dabbling in books is a test that makes sense.