We’ve compared Audible with Spotify Audiobooks to find the cheapest option
by Zoe Stabler, Senior Writer
A new update has dropped for Spotify Premium members: audiobooks are included in your subscription. This is a pretty good update, with Spotify pitting itself against Audible, Amazon’s dedicated audiobook listening platform.
Subscribers of both platforms could potentially save some money going forward (I delve into what this means for me later on). Even avid audiobook listeners who may want to remain subscribed to both could save money – here’s everything you need to know!
What is Spotify Audiobooks?
A new audiobooks category is available for Spotify Premium members. This lets you stream to up to 15 hours of audiobooks every month, as part of your plan.
How does Spotify Audiobooks work?
Spotify Audiobooks comes included with Spotify Premium. It’s been automatically added to the app, so you should be able to see audiobooks available in your library already.
You’ll see “Included with Premium” next to any books that you can access with your account.
As you listen to audiobooks, Spotify will clock your hours. Once you hit 15 hours, you won’t be able to listen to any more audiobooks until your month renews or you purchase additional hours.
If I have a Duo or Family plan, will everyone get access?
No – this is a huge drawback of Spotify Audiobooks. We’ve talked before about these plans being a great way to save money on Spotify. You previously didn’t get any additional perks with either option. However, there’s now a downside to choosing this method — only the plan manager can get access to audiobooks.
You could opt to be strategic with who the plan manager is, by making sure it’s someone who will actually use the feature.
What if you run out of hours: can you top up?
Thankfully, you can top up your listening hours. This is £10 per 10 hours, which is just short of a book (you’d expect a book to be between 10 and 15 hours, typically). In comparison to Audible books costing £7.99 for members, this is a bit steep.
This is especially the case for books that are much longer – the latest Robert Galbraith novel is 34 hours long. That’d set you back an additional £20 if you try to listen within a month.
Avoid Stephen King, JK Rowling/Robert Galbraith and JRR Tolkien and you’re probably good to go.
Is there a good range of audiobooks?
From what we can tell, the range seems to be pretty good. We checked out Waterstones’ latest releases list and it seems to have most of them.
Some titles aren’t available to stream with Spotify, and instead are only available to purchase. I came across a recent release called The Other Half by Charlotte Vassell, which has a lock symbol on the play button – when I tried to play it it came up with a notification to head to Spotify to purchase the title (with no price).
Upon further investigation, it costs £25.90 for the title, but would then be mine to keep. The same book would cost £7.99 to keep with Audible.
The same seems to happen with the latest Richard Osman release – you can listen to the first and latest in the series, but the two in between will cost you £16.49 each. These are both £7.99 on Audible.
Benefits of Spotify Audiobooks
- All your listening in one place
- 15 hours included with your subscription – if you’re paying for it anyway, you might consider it free
- It’s really easy to find books to listen to – I’ve always found Audible to be quite difficult to use
- Listen with any device that works with Spotify
Drawbacks of Spotify Audiobooks
- You get a set number of hours, not books. Nobody wants to be stuck on a cliffhanger, and certainly not mid-chapter
- Only available for the Plan manager in Duo and Family accounts – meaning you might be paying £17.99 per month, but only one of you can use the feature
- You don’t own the books that you read – not a huge issue, but sometimes you might like to re-listen to the odd novel
How does Spotify Audiobooks compare to Audible?
Light listeners who subscribe to Audible could opt to cancel their subscription and listen with Spotify instead. Those who purchase extra credits in Audible might be able to split their listening between the platforms to save themselves up to £7.99 per listen.
If you’re not a Spotify Premium member and have no interest in the music and podcasts that Spotify offers, it’s not worth signing up for Spotify for the sake of the audiobooks, stick with Audible.
Audible vs Spotify Audiobooks: which is cheaper?
|Monthly cost||£7.99||£10.99 (Individual)|
|Number of books included||1 credit plus unlimited listens from the Plus catalogue||15 hours (approx 1 book)|
|Additional content||Podcasts||Music, Podcasts|
|Top ups||Buy 3 extra books for about £6 each or pay £7.99 per book||£9.99 per extra 10 hours|
|Best for:||Avid listeners, reading more than one book per month|
Lighter readers that don’t use Spotify
|Lighter listeners, if you already have Spotify|
|What if you don’t like the book?||Return it, no questions asked||You’ve lost the listening time you used|
|Do you own the book?||You own the books you purchase and use credits on and can read them later even if you’re no longer subscribed. |
Books from the Plus catalogue are “borrowed”.
|You don’t own the books.|
In short, the cheaper option if you just want audiobooks is Audible, but in terms of the range of other content available, Spotify offers the best value, especially if you already subscribe to it.
Big audiobook fans will likely find Audible to be the better option. This is especially the case if you read with a Kindle and use WhisperSync (which is where your audiobook and Kindle copy sync automatically).
Audible or Spotify: which is the better option?
The gist is that if you listen to one book per month and already pay for a music streaming service, you can probably ditch Audible for Spotify Premium. If you listen to one book per month and don’t use any music streaming service, stick with Audible.
If you listen to several books per month, you could use both in tandem, but keep the longer listens for Audible.
Those who may want to revisit a book they’ve already listened to would “spend” the time twice with Spotify. Meanwhile, if you’ve used a credit for it with Audible, it’s yours.
If you’re a “try before you buy” user, Audible also lets you return a book with no questions asked. You can dislike the narrator or the storyline, even a couple of hours in. With Spotify, this time is wasted, sadly.
As Amazon now owns Goodreads, where readers can log the books they’ve read and share their thoughts with friends, your reading progress and reviews are automatically updated with Audible. You’d have to manually add these with Spotify.
Could I save money with Spotify Audiobooks?
To work out if this would save anyone any money, I looked back at my own listening history.
In September, I listened to approximately five books, with a total listening time of about 58 hours. Three of these books either cost me Audible credits or I bought them, coming in at £7.99 each. Two were in the Plus catalogue, which are free if you have an active Audible subscription.
In the future, I can hack my listening by using both subscription platforms in tandem. Here’s how I could have got my cost down from £23.97 in the month to £15.98.
|Confessions of a Forty-Something F**k Up by Alexandra Potter||12 hours||1 credit||Use credit on Audible (£7.99)|
|More Confessions of a Forty-Something F**k Up by Alexandra Potter||12 hours||£7.99||Listen on Spotify (Free, as I already have a subscription)|
|The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley||12 ½ hours||£7.99||Buy Book on Audible (£7.99)|
|The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond||13 hours||Free (in Plus catalogue)||Listen on Audible (Free)|
|The Housemaid by Sarah A. Denzil||9 hours||Free (in Plus catalogue)||Listen on Audible (Free)|
|Total cost||58.5 hours in total|
|3 x £7.99 = £23.97||2 x £7.99 = £15.98|
Audible doesn’t have any rules on password sharing, so you could share your password with someone who’s got a similar taste in books and they can listen to the books you’ve already read. You’ll want to communicate which books you’re reading, and the person you’re sharing with will have full access to your Amazon account. This wouldn’t work with Spotify as you would use up the hours available to listen, so you can’t listen to books twice.
You can get it even cheaper by making use of your library and BBC Sounds, which both have audiobooks for free.
Listen to Cash Chats, Andy’s award-winning podcast. Episodes every Tuesday.
Other ways to get free audiobooks
You don’t have to have a subscription to either platform if you’re looking for audiobooks – you can nab some free listens with an online library or with BBC Sounds.
Many libraries offer audiobooks via an online streaming service or app. You’re only borrowing the books, so you have to wait until other people have finished, as you would at a library. Online libraries have improved over the years, so you can get access to new releases pretty quickly.
In addition, BBC Sounds has a range of audiobooks available. You wouldn’t expect to see any popular new releases, but you can get access to a range of genres available to listen to anytime.