Playster raises price and limits collections for audiobook listening

Customers’ voracious appetite for audiobooks seems to once again be a problem for subscription platform Playster. A few months back, I wrote about Playster cancelling the accounts of customers for excessive audiobook listening (here and here). At the same time, they quickly and quietly raised the price of the audiobook portion of their subscription service from $9.95 to $14.95.

Now, Playster has announced that they are limiting the size of the collection for subscribers at the $14.95 level and adding a new unlimited premium tier at double the price: $29.95.

Playster is calling the plan at the $14.95 price point the Basic plan. The plan offers “unlimited access to 40,000+ titles from world-class authors, like Michael Crichton, Janet Evanovich and Faye Kellerman.” Playster also says they have improved the audiobook player experience.

The new Premium plan offers “unlimited access to 100,000+ of the newest titles made available on the same day they’re released”. The Premium plan includes authors like James Patterson, Stephen King, Danielle Steel, Dan Brown, George R.R. Martin. Subscribers are promised “unlimited access to every major and classic title they can dream of”.

According to Playster’s support page on the plan changes, “some members may temporarily lose access to their playlists, downloaded titles and/or audiobooks they’ve started.”

The changes to the audiobook plans went into effect yesterday, December 22, 2017. As of today, the website is still showing $14.95 for the cost of the audiobook subscription.

Not surprisingly, the complaints have already started. On TrustPilot, the words bait and switch are used a lot. Most people are saying that the books they have saved to read are all in the Premium tier. Customers who recently started free trials are complaining that the trial only seems to apply to the Basic tier, not the Premium. One comment said that all the books in the basic tier were the same content available on Librivox (a service that offers free public domain audiobooks). Others are saying that, with the new, higher price,  Audible is a better deal.

Subscription service Scribd made many similar choices in February and March of 2016 and it cost them a lot of subscribers. Scribd culled many of its popular genres (like the romance and comics categories) and also divided its catalog into two tiers and limited the number of books and audiobooks subscribers could access in Selects, its premium tier.

I don’t doubt that we will hear more about this from customers. As audiobooks continue to soar in popularity, affordable access for avid listeners is going to be an even more important issue. Subscription services seem to continue to underestimate the demand for audiobooks.

The public library is looking better and better for audiobook aficionados.

Are you a Playster subscriber? What do you think?

(Thanks to Angel for the tip!)

(Note: You can read my original review of the Playster service here.)

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