Spotify dabbles in audiobooks by offering nine public-domain works

Spotify isn’t limiting its audio ambitions to podcasts and music. Today the company announced it’s furthering its audiobook experiments with the release of nine new audiobooks available exclusively in the app. 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.

The decision to pursue audiobooks is interesting, especially given the fact that the company is starting out with public domain works, meaning Spotify doesn’t have to pay to license them. It’s a lower-risk investment for the company, which it might need given that some analysts are starting to advise clients to sell their stock because they don’t see podcasting efforts yielding high returns.

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