For beginners to audiobooks and for people who are uncertain if a separate subscription is worth the cost, I highly suggest reading on Spotify! Since this platform is available in many countries and is highly accessible, it’s incredibly empowering to know that audiobooks are not as exclusive as I originally thought. Subscriptions are quite affordable (at least here in the Philippines) and come with music and podcasts as well. Even free accounts will do, as long as you can bear the ads.
However, one big downside to it as a reading platform is that there are no visible ways to look for audiobooks. You really have to go hunting for them and be very specific with your search terms. I’ve put together this guide to empower readers with the skills to find what you like and spare you the same headaches I had.
Please note that this is not a sponsored post
but I would highly appreciate any compensation from Spotify for this huge undertaking. It is done out of love for a new format, of frustration with unclear navigation, and of service to friends who are also exploring the platform.
What do audiobooks look like on Spotify?
Unabridged or full versions are usually uploaded as albums. It has several songs or tracks that can range from 53 for a 3-hour audiobook up to 264 for a 12-hour one.
There are usually two names listed as artists: the author and the audiobook narrator. Please take note that these accounts are different from profiles, which are regular user accounts.
Each song is usually labeled with as Chapter # and has an average of 2-5 minutes long. The chapter numbers in the song titles don’t necessarily correspond with the book’s actual chapter headings.
I am currently reading Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan, so this is what my Spotify currently looks like!
Here are some tips to find audiobooks in Spotify and to explore what it is currently available on the platform:
Look for curated lists by bookish content creators
Like with every other search for book recommendations, the best starting place is to ask your friends or to check a trusted source! Several bookish platforms and trade magazines have come up with their own lists, and they are helpful as a starting point for discovering more.
Here are lists you might find helpful!
- Bookstagram Represents – diverse books; this is actually the list that started my audiobook journey!
- Leosthetics – diverse books; a pretty exhaustive list that includes many of the titles I have in my own Spotify library!
- Asian Readathon Master Directory – list of Asian-authored books in all formats compiled by Cindy (@withcindy) for May/Asian Readathon
- Book Riot – diverse books
- Epic Reads – YA books
- Gabi’s Book Reviews – YA books
- Star is All Booked Up – YA and MG books
- Fab Fit Fun – bestsellers
- Vogue UK – classics and literary fiction
- The Urban List – books written by women
- The Bookish Garden – LGBTQIA+ books
- Qwik Lit – Poetry collections
A big limitation of this is that a single list is dependent on what the curator likes or knows is out there on Spotify. Usually, these lists also highlight just one genre or niche. My tip is to check lists from a variety of resources! This way, you can get a better view of what is available across genres and be able to plan your reading accordingly. I personally had a fun time going through all these lists and adding books I don’t normally pick up!
Do you know of other similar lists? Have you made your own? Please let me know so that I can add them here!
Search for master playlists of audiobooks
According to this helpful tip, liking an album can throw your entire Spotify library into chaos, which is why other users opt to add the first track of each audiobook into a master playlist. Some of these are public and can be easily followed!
Here are some you might find helpful:
- Diverse books – a public playlist by SunshineEnby
- Western Canon or the classics
- Bestsellers – a mixed bag of genres and age categories
- Speculative Fiction
- Children’s books
- YA books
- YA books pt. 2
- Various books
- Diverse books – a public playlist by @kath_reads
If you have a public playlist of your own, please let me know in the comments so that I can link it here!
I actually found most of these playlists using the most generic search terms possible. Here are the key words I typed into my Spotify search bar:
- young adult
- Chapter 1 (Instead of albums, please check under songs or episodes)
If you know other key words that can yield good results, please do share your suggestions in the comments section!
Click on Spotify-generated playlists
One of the best features of Spotify is their recommendations feature! Although it doesn’t quite translate to the audiobook niche, it still provides radios and other playlists to explore where else the artist is featured. It also suggests other authors and narrators for you to try!
You can also find these playlists by scrolling through the author’s or narrator’s artist account. Here’s an example for T.S. Eliot:
Here are two that I found useful in helping me discover even more audiobooks:
Explore the artists’ discographies
This is my biggest breakthrough! I consider this the best possible way to look for a specific audiobook: search for the narrator’s name, check if they have an artist account, and go through their discography.
To date, here are the narrators with at least one complete and unabridged book in their discography. I have organized my list into three parts: ones I’ve personally read, ones recommended by friends, and ones I found through research. I haven’t yet added some narrators whose works appear in the master playlists, so keep refreshing this page for updates!
|Narrators I’ve read||Friend Recommendations||On Spotify|
David de Vries
Emily Woo Zeller
Note: Audiobooks read by their own authors are not included in the list.
Even if I don’t find the specific audiobooks I’m looking for, I love seeing how diverse or how niche some narrators’ discographies are. I am a huge fan of going through a voice actor’s entire catalog regardless of genre–as evidenced by my anime watch list obviously inspired by Mamoru Miyano and Hana Kanazawa–and I’ll likely carry that into my newfound love for audiobooks.
I would also like to thank my friends in various online book clubs (Talk Bookish to Me, Sunnybook Farm, Subtle Asian Book Club, and Blogosphere) for generously providing suggestions and recommendations and for introducing me to awesome audiobook narrators.
I’m also adding here some crazy desperate attempts that–I kid you not–I actually tried first before coming up with the earlier tips I shared. They have wrecked my Spotify search history and made me almost give up on this month-long research project, but they have also taught me what to look for. Every time I think I figured something out, I hit a snag and go back to square one. Maris Racal’s typing meme sums it up perfectly:
With that said, please do not try these as they do not really yield results except make me realize better patterns and more effective techniques. Save yourself. PLEASE.
In honor of all my efforts, I present to you my failures:
Go through the entire audiobook catalog of each publisher that has uploaded at least one unabridged album
It sounds so… out there, but hear me out. While listening to the credits, I noticed that most of the audiobooks I read are produced by Scholastic Audio and with one each by Macmillan Audio and by Dreamscape Audiobooks. This was the first bright idea I had: since publisher/production companies are the ones uploading the albums to Spotify, maybe their entire catalogs are there!
I was right in theory, but combing through entire catalogs of big publishing houses was an entirely different experience. This led me to a shortcut, which is to:
Look for lists of audiobooks in trade magazines
It isn’t any better than the above suggestion, but it did lead me to the biggest victory of this research project: noticing that some audiobook narrator names appear several times in a genre. Behold, A BREAKTHROUGH! I don’t know how to describe the sheer relief of knowing that I can actually build a system of search tips now. I don’t have to beg search engines for scraps! *sobs*
Type the name of every author I like in the search bar
The most important thing I learned in that obviously fruitless exercise is knowing the difference between artist and profile. Yes, it’s an important distinction.
I initially tried clicking on the authors’ artist accounts of the audiobooks I’ve read, but they only list one audiobook in their discographies. You can imagine all the hapless typing I did trying to find any author with a Spotify artist account.
And also… maybe I’m wasting my energy trying to do the wrong thing. Don’t just work hard; you also have to work smart and all that jazz.
The biggest game changer in my reading journey this year is finally giving audiobooks a try. I’ve always considered my listening comprehension to be reaaaaallly bad, so holding an entire universe in my head feels like an impossibility. I don’t even listen to music regularly–a fact that often shocks people whenever I’m asked to name my favorite artists–so, up until I tried audiobooks, my Spotify premium membership has been devoted to an occasional TSwift binge or to playing my mom’s instrumental worship songs.
But after reading The Serpent’s Secret by Sayantani DasGupta on Spotify, I realized that maybe I *am* missing out on something. I don’t think I would like the book as much as I did had I read it in print. It led me to reading another, and another, and another, until I will now fight for the beauty and function of audiobooks until my dying breath.
It’s too late for a disclaimer, but I would just like to say that had I been more familiar with the platform, maybe I wouldn’t have been gone through so much while researching this 😅 But that’s the thing, isn’t it? When you finally discover something you find worthwhile, you do all that you can to dig deep.
While putting this list together, I found so many interesting titles to add to my TBR! Not searching for a specific book helped me explore what’s currently available, and there’s nothing like the thrill of discovering that the world holds so much more than I thought.
Hope you find this guide helpful!
- Have you read any books on Spotify? What’s your favorite so far?
- Do you know of other curated lists, or have you made your own? Please comment them so I can update this post!
- Who are your favorite audiobook narrators? Let me know so I can check if they have Spotify artist accounts too!
- Do you know any other search techniques I haven’t tried yet? Please, please, PLEASE share them!