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Self-publishing News: Spotify To Move From Subscription And Sell Individual Audiobook Titles

Self-publishing News: Spotify to Move From Subscription and Sell Individual Audiobook Titles

In this week's Self-Publishing News Special, ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway looks Spotify’s plans to sell individual audiobook titles and a new award for disabled writers open to indie authors.

Dan Holloway head and shoulders

ALLi's News Editor Dan Holloway

This week's #indieauthorchat is tonight, Wednesday 8 June, at 8pm UK time, 3pm Eastern Time. Tim will be asking whether we should use videos to market our books. Please do also catch up with the latest self-publishing news podcast, which you can listen to here. In it, Howard and I look in depth at the recent controversies around the role of librarians in curating content among many other things.

Spotify to Introduce a la Carte Store for Audiobooks?

We know Spotify has entered the audiobook arena. But now they are seriously ramping up their interest in the area according to CEO Daniel Ek, who gave audiobooks centre stage in his latest address to investors. And the biggest part of the announcement seems to be a move away from the all you can eat subscription model. It’s a model we think of not just when it comes to Spotify, but when we think of how the audiobook market as a whole is developing.

Ek has suggested Spotify will open a store that will allow listeners to buy individual audiobooks outside of any subscription package. It is not clear whether this will be for additional purchases on top of a subscription or for content not available through subscription, or whether it marks a full-scale shift away from audiobook subscription. What is very much clear is that everyone else who offers audiobooks will be watching closely. Spotify is a huge player, an order of magnitude larger than Audible in terms of subscribers. What they do will determine what we should expect others either to follow or deviate from as a means of differentiation. On the other hand, they’re newcomers. And newcomers sometimes misjudge things catastrophically. Time will tell.

Will Spotify launch in-house AI-generated audiobook narration?

Interestingly, this move comes the same week Spotify acquired Sonantic. Sonantic specialise in AI-generated text to voice production. That opens a whole landscape of possibilities for their expansion within the audiobook market. One of the increasing frustrations with Audible has been their failure to accept AI-narrated audiobooks. Audible of course have hitherto pushed people towards ACX, where authors and voice artists can meet and work together. If Spotify were to use this new acquisition to make AI narration available in-house for anyone selling audiobooks through them, that would be a huge move.

10th Successive Year of Double Digit Audio Revenue Growth

Spotify’s move comes as new figures show the audiobook market continuing to grow. The Audio Publishers Association in the US announced that in 2021 audiobook revenue hit $1.6bn. This is an eye watering 25% year on year increase. Even more staggeringly it is the 10th consecutive year of double digit growth. Interestingly the number of titles increased only by 6% in the same period, to 74,000. Which shows the potential for anyone who does publish in the format.

As for what genres are driving sales, there are no surprises here. Science fiction, fantasy, and thrillers all lead the way. And romance saw a 75% increase. Self-help, which is the staple of the podcast boom, also saw growth top 30%.

Awards: End of an Era for Costa Book Award and a New Prize for Disabled and Chronically Ill Authors Open to Indies

After 50 years, one of the UK’s richest and most prestigious book awards is closing its doors. The Costa Book Awards, formerly sponsored by Whitbread, have been a key part of the calendar for years. They rewarded books in five different categories, from children’s books to poetry. And out of those category winners selected a book of the year. It was a format that drove conversation and sales incredibly well.

But the Costa Awards were more than that. The book prizes never opened their doors to indie titles. But the accompanying Short Story Award was a much needed high profile prize that was open to all. This might seem obvious. Aren’t short story awards always open to everyone? Not, sadly, in the UK. Here the National Short Story Award has for many years been limited to those with a traditional publishing contract. The Costa was a high profile and much needed counterpoint to that and will be sadly missed.

But the good news is that the Society of Authors has announced a new prize that will be open to indie authors. And it’s in a field close to my heart. The ADCI (Authors with Disabilities and Chronic Illnesses) Prize will offer a first prize of £1000 and two runners up prizes of £500 each. It’s open to disabled and chronically ill authors whose books contain disabled or chronically ill characters. The prize is the brainchild of author Penny Batchelor and publisher Clare Christian, and will first be awarded next June.

It's also great to see ALLi's Melissa Addey has been announced as one of the judges for the Kindle Storyteller Award. You can find out more about the award in my column from the week it launched.

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Author: Dan Holloway

Dan Holloway is a novelist, poet and spoken word artist. He is the MC of the performance arts show The New Libertines, which has appeared at festivals and fringes from Manchester to Stoke Newington. In 2010 he was the winner of the 100th episode of the international spoken prose event Literary Death Match, and earlier this year he competed at the National Poetry Slam final at the Royal Albert Hall. His latest collection, The Transparency of Sutures, is available for Kindle at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Transparency-Sutures-Dan-Holloway-ebook/dp/B01A6YAA40

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