Spotify's next chapter will bring audiobooks to the streaming service

spotify on a phone next to a laptop and a pair of headphones
(Image credit: Future Publishing)

Spotify's catalogue is set to expand, as the company has announced that it plans to acquire audiobook platform Findaway.

As well as having a library of over 325,000 titles, Findaway also distributes audiobooks to different platforms, and pairs authors with narrators – which means Spotify audiobooks could become yet another revenue stream for the streaming service.. 

Speaking to The Verge, Spotify's head of audiobooks Nir Zicherman said that the acquisition will "accelerate the addition of an audiobook catalog onto the platform so that users can effectively get all of the audio content that they want all on one platform".

As well as bringing more audiobooks to Spotify subscribers, Zicherman said the company is focusing on "democratization" by allowing more people to create and publish audiobooks.

a parent reading while a child listens to spotify on headphones

(Image credit: Spotify)

Spotify has experimented with audiobooks in the past, releasing celebrity-narrated public domain classics and a Harry Potter audiobook in 2020 - but this acquisition shows that the company is hoping to vastly expand its offerings, much like it branched out into podcasts a few years ago.

If audiobooks prove as popular as podcasts on Spotify, the acquisition could be very lucrative indeed - the company announced that podcast ad revenue increased by 627% year on year in July 2021, with podcast listening increasing by 30%.

According to The Verge, Findaway shares in author's royalties, so when a user buys a Findaway-distributed book on Spotify, the music streaming service will make money, and will also take a cut of the revenue. 

It sounds as though you'll be able to buy individual audiobooks on Spotify, but we wouldn't be surprised if the company announces a new subscription tier to cater for spoken word content specifically in the next few months.

What about Spotify HiFi?

We've had a number of announcements from Spotify in recent weeks - including the ability to block other users on the platform - but we haven't had the one announcement we've been waiting for: a Spotify HiFi launch date. 

Recently, we've seen several signs that Spotify HiFi is close to launch. We've seen screenshots of the Spotify HiFi logo in the app as well as a Spotify HiFi onboarding video leaked by a Redditor.

According to a Spotify blog post, the new service will be available "later in 2021" – and it will be available as an upgrade to Premium. However, the end of the year is fast approaching, and we still don't have a firm release date.

Spotify HiFi was revealed earlier this year, and will allow you to hear your favorite songs in lossless, CD-quality audio. Spotify is one of the few big streaming platforms that doesn't offer lossless audio, and the move could help it close the gap between its services and rival platforms like Apple Music, Amazon Music HD, Tidal, and Deezer

Although HiFi won't include truly hi-res audio streams like Apple Music and Amazon, CD-quality audio at 1,411kbps will be a big improvement on Spotify's current offering of 320kbps.

Spotify playing with AirPods

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Lossless audio formats have more detail and data than their lossy counterparts. That means hearing new details in songs you’ve never heard before that otherwise might’ve been cut out when the data was compressed. It should also sound a bit wider and more immersive, though, a lot of it will depend on which headphones or speakers you use, too.

We still don't know how much Spotify HiFi will cost, but we think it will be more than the basic Spotify Premium price of $9.99 / £9.99 / AU$11.99 per month. 

In contrast, Apple Music and Amazon Music HD both offer hi-res audio at no extra cost to its subscribers - and while Spotify does have a superior music discovery platform and more user-friendly interface than its competitors, we're not sure how many people will opt to pay extra for HiFi when they can get true hi-res audio from Spotify's biggest rivals.

Olivia Tambini

Olivia was previously TechRadar's Senior Editor - Home Entertainment, covering everything from headphones to TVs. Based in London, she's a popular music graduate who worked in the music industry before finding her calling in journalism. She's previously been interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live on the subject of multi-room audio, chaired panel discussions on diversity in music festival lineups, and her bylines include T3, Stereoboard, What to Watch, Top Ten Reviews, Creative Bloq, and Croco Magazine. Olivia now has a career in PR.