Audible, Amazon’s online audiobook and podcast platform, is making significant changes to how paid subscriptions work in India and adding more content for free users. It upgrades all paid subscribers to the Plus level to open access to over 15,000 titles in English and Hindi and reduces the need for monthly credits to add certain audiobooks to the library. This will add access to Audible originals and podcasts. Free users will now be able to listen to over 150 exclusive and Audible Originals podcasts.
The changes to Audible subscriptions in India may be a reaction to the engagement measures, which while Amazon doesn’t illustrate in numbers, are paving the way for all markets the company has a presence in. The Plus update is being rolled out for Apple from Audible. IPhone and Android apps, plus access to Amazon’s Echo smart speakers.
Indians finding time to listen to audiobooks
“India is leading the growth and engagement metrics for audiobooks, with paid members averaging 2.5 hours per day,” said Shailesh Sawlani, Country Head, Audible. He said that in the pre-Covid era, audiobook user engagement typically increased between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. It coincided with the trip to the office and back. It has since changed.
Sawlani said that since the start of the pandemic, the hours of listening to audiobooks have changed throughout the day, based on convenience and when the work-from-home routine permits. “Listening hours have remained solid but are now spread over the day. ”
There is still a visible increase in listening to audiobooks at specific times of the day, such as before lunch or in the evening, coinciding with the evening stroll window for many users. Audible users also log in during chores around the home.
What audiobooks does India listen to
It is still true that some genres are more popular than others. Sawlani said personal development and mythology books are doing very well with a large group of Audible users. Surprisingly though, escape fiction has worked very well with paid subscribers. DC’s The Sandman by Neil Gaiman and Dirk Maggs was hugely popular. The Last Girl To Fall In Love With Durjoy Datta and The Last Boy To Fall In Love, both of which also have Hindi audiobook versions, are among the most heard audiobooks.
Audible Plus catalog reflects preferences
Audible has a strong focus on original content, including new shows featuring celebrities such as Sanya Malhotra, Varun Sharma, Kubbra Sait, Sayani Gupta, Shabir Ahluwalia, Sriti Jha, and Nakuul Mehta. Sawlani said the Indian audiobooks that are now part of the Plus catalog include The Last Girl to Fall in Love by Durjoy Datta, Season 2 of TVF’s Permanent Roommates, The Karadi Tales, The Panchatantra, and Autobiography of a Yogi (the Hindi edition) by Paramahansa Yogananda.
My Man Jeeves by PG Wodehouse, A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson, Sherlock Holmes: The Definitive Collection by Arthur Conan Doyle and narrated by Stephen Fry, Les Misérables by Victor Hugo, Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy and Tales of Terror by ‘Edgar Allan Poe tops the popularity charts in the international category.
The Importance of India to Amazon Audible
Audible subscription in India costs ??199 per month. Subscriptions include credits each month. They allow users to add audio books that are not part of the catalog from over 2,000,000 Indian and international titles to their library.
In India, Audible competes with Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts, as well as the music streaming platform Spotify, which has aggressively stepped up podcast content in India. Moreover, audiobook playlists are also available for free on Spotify. In some countries, Spotify also offers audiobook content from Swedish audiobook streaming group Storytel, a partnership that was announced earlier this year.
Although unlimited access to listen to the Plus catalog has been added at no additional cost, users will still have the credits to add more audiobooks. All the content of the Suno app will also be available in the Audible Plus catalog.
The subscription plan in India is significantly cheaper than the Audible subscription fee in the US, at $ 7.95 per month (approx. ??598 per month) for the Plus plan and $ 14.95 per month for the Premium Plus plan. India continues to be an important market for Audible’s business, alongside the UK, US, Italy, Canada, Germany, Japan and Spain.
Audible has confirmed that audiobooks will also be accessible through the Amazon Alexa voice assistant, on Echo smart speakers and smart displays. Free tier subscribers can activate the Suno Skill in the Alexa app (free for Android and iPhone), then say “Alexa, open Audible Suno” and choose an audiobook from their library.
Subscribers, who have a paid Audible subscription and have access to the Plus catalog, need to stream an audiobook to an Echo smart speaker from the Audible app on their phones. The Amazon Echo smart speaker must be connected to home Wi-Fi to enable streaming.