Spotify audiobooks have so far seemed a forgotten offering, with just a handful of titles added last year, but there is now an indication that the company is gearing up for a more serious push into this market.

The audio streaming company has just added nine titles, all classics with new narrations …

The Hollywood Reporter has the details.

Spotify on Monday released a small collection of exclusive audiobook recordings on its platform, a move that signals its interest in continuing to broaden its library of non-music programming […]

The nine audiobooks that are now available on Spotify are all part of the public domain, but the original recordings are exclusive to the streaming platform. David Dobrik narrates Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; Forest Whitaker reads Frederick Douglass memoir Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave; Hilary Swank narrates The Awakening by Kate Chopin; and Cynthia Erivo reads Jane Austen’s Persuasion.

The other titles that Spotify is releasing as part of the collection are Jean Toomer’s Cane, narrated by Audra McDonald; Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, narrated by James Langton; Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, narrated by Sarah Coombs; Nella Larsen’s Passing, narrated by Bahni Turpin; and Stephen Crane’s Red Badge of Courage, narrated by Santino Fontana.

Officially this is a test, but the company is putting some promotion behind it, and it follows the company advertising a job opening for a head of audiobooks. That suggests Spotify does have plans for a wider launch.

Spotify has already made a big-time diversification into podcasts, so audiobooks would be a logical next step. The company did, however, court controversy with some exclusive shows available only through the Spotify app. Some went as far as suggesting that a podcast that isn’t available as an RSS feed into the app of your choice isn’t a podcast.

My colleague Bradley Chambers argued back in the summer that Spotify is aiming to become the YouTube of audio – a single place to visit for all your audio needs – rather than compete directly against podcast platforms and apps. A more concerted push into audiobooks would fit this ambition, but would see Spotify competing against both Apple and Amazon’s Audible.

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