SpotioBooks (Spotify X Cornell Tech BigCo Studio)

Product Designer  /  Jan 2022 – May 2022  /  UX & UI Design

SpotioBooks (Spotify X Cornell Tech)

Product Designer
Aug 2021 – Dec 2021
UX&UI Design

Project Overview

SpotioBooks is tailored to provide a framework for Spotify’s Audiobook space. Currently the production of audiobooks is costly and monopolized by large publishing companies. This product aims to reduce the barrier of entry in the audiobook industry by creating a space where anyone can record a published book that has not yet been released in audio format. This will give users several narrators to choose from by having access to a preview before purchase.

I collaborated with three data analysts and two engineers to conduct research, ensuring that our final prototypes incorporate essential features.



Problem Statement

How might we amplify Spotify's audiobooks that will be newly launched?



Anyone can record an audiobook

Users can narrate a book in their favorite place to earn extra money, which also helps Spotify and authors reduce the expense of hiring professional narrators. This service offers an episodic purchase option to empower its users to engage actively in this app as a listener and a narrator.


It is not easy to get into the audiobook market

Spotify recently announced plans to expand its business into audiobooks and formed a partnership with an audiobook platform, Storytel. Between 2016 and 2021, the Audiobook Publishing industry exhibited strong growth as consumer demand for audiobooks increased. However, it is hard to entry in the audiobook market since:

Audible monopolizes audiobook industry

The major player in the audiobook industry is Audible, which makes up about 63.4% of the market.

Professional narrators are costly

In the US, hiring professional narrators can be overwhelming and time-consuming, with costs ranging from $100 to $300 per finished hour (PFH).


Research Findings

Audiobook platforms adopt subscription-based business models

Subscription-based business models increase revenue for audiobook platforms. Spotify also uses a freemium business model, which offers both free and paid subscriptions, so users can choose either plan based on what they prioritize.

Audible Subscription

As of Sep 2021, Premium subscription is 91% of Spotify's total revenue


Interview Findings

Listeners prefer short-form content,
Creators focus on sound quality

Episodic content is favored over full content, as revealed by interviews listeners. People prefer shorter audiobooks for multitasking, with 30-minute limits, and emphasize sound quality for better comprehension. Content creators, on the other hand, emphasize the importance of sound quality as it directly impacts comprehension levels.



Competition among narrators

People create their own content on Instagram and Youtube to earn money, become famous, or just as a hobby, motivating continuous production. Therefore, our idea 'Anyone can narrate an audiobook' can foster competition among narrators for higher rankings and lead to better quality recordings. Also, providing sample audio helps users choose favorite narrators with high quality.



People want to narrate a book!

We experimented with people's willingness to become narrators. We asked 14 people to record a chapter of their favorite book and received recordings. 80% of the participants are non-professional narrators, and 20% of them are content creators.

Experiment Result

85.7 %

Willing to record another chapter for a monetary incentive.

13m 9s

The average length of the recording time of each chapter.


Low-fidelity Prototype (Sketch)



I chose Iteration 2 as final design since offering e-book on the app requires narrators to buy it, which can make them unmotivated with complicated process.

Iteration 1

Narrators can record audio while reading a book directly on the screen like karaoke apps

Iteration 2

Our app only offers timeline and voice animation while reading a physical book


Key Flow


Final Product

Your narrator reads a book for you

Users can choose their favorite narrators by listening to a sample piece of audio of each piece of content. Due to an episodic purchase option, users can choose different narrators for each chapter.

Start and resume recording an audiobook anytime

Once users choose a book they want to narrate, they can record it by clicking the 'microphone' button on the overview page. Users can always resume and manage all of their recordings on Narrator's page.



Experimenting is helpful to assess our idea

As a design student, I was only confident using UT (User Testing), which I implemented after designing a prototype to analyze users' behaviors while using it. In this case, I could only be aware of the problems of a prototype that I had missed.

However, through an experiment, our team proved that many of the non-professional narrators, who might represent most of the Spotify users, are willing to record a book in return for compensation. This experiment showed user motivation and engagement, so it will be helpful for me to contemplate wider aspects for the future projects other than design.