Audiobook Sales Up 18.2% in 2016, to $2.1 Billion

The Audio Publishers Association posted a few of the result from their annual consumer survey today.

The APA is estimating that audiobook sales totaled more than $2.1 billion in the US in 2016, up 18.2% from 2015. This is the third consecutive year that audiobook sales have expanded by nearly 20%, and unit volume was also up 33.9%.

According to the press release, 24% of Americans (more than 67 million people) completed at least one audiobook in 2016, a 22% increase over the 2015 survey.

Audiobook Sales Up 18.2% in 2016, to $2.1 Billion Audiobook surveys & polls

High point from the press release:

Who listens to audiobooks?

  • Nearly half (48%) of frequent audiobook listeners are under 35.
  • Audiobook listeners are often also podcast listeners. Respondents who consumed both podcasts and audiobooks listened to twice as many audiobooks in the past 12 months as non-podcast consumers.
  • Avid readers are also listening. Audiobook listeners read or listened to an average of 15 books in the last year, and 77% of frequent listeners agreed or strongly agreed that “audiobooks help you finish more books.”

How and where are they listening?

  • Far more listeners are saying they use their smartphone most often to listen to audiobooks than ever before – 29% in 2017 vs. 22% in 2015.
  • A majority of audiobook listening is done at home (57%), with the car being the second most frequently-cited location (32%).
  • 68% of frequent listeners do housework while listening to audiobooks.  Other multitasking activities among frequent listeners include baking (65%), exercise (56%) and crafting (36%).
  • The 2017 survey asked about voice-enabled wireless speakers (such as Amazon Echo or Google Home) for the first time, with 19% of all listeners reporting using them to listen to an audiobook in the last year. Among frequent listeners, that rises to 30%.

Additional Key Findings

  • Libraries remain major access channels and important drivers of audiobook discovery. 27% of people said borrowing from a library/library website was very important for discovering new audiobooks.
  • Of the more than 50,000 titles produced on audio in 2016, the most popular genres were Mysteries/Thrillers/Suspense, Science Fiction/Fantasy and Romance.
  • The top three reasons why people enjoy listening to audiobooks are: 1) They can do other things while listening; 2) Audiobooks are portable and people can listen wherever they are; and 3) They enjoy being read to.

image by ActuaLitté

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: He's here to chew bubble gum and fix broken websites, and he is all out of bubble gum. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills at the drop of a hat. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.

3 Comments

  1. Syn7 June, 2017

    I listen with my Amazon Tap, Echodot in the car, fire tablet in bed at night. Why? Because i’m ADD (not ADHD), and listening keeps my mind from wandering off to start a million tasks and finishing few of them.

    A good narrator can take a mediocre book and make it good if not great. They can be more entertaining, as many narrators act the parts instead of just reading them. I listened to one book where the character was singing in the book so the narrator did too.

    An awesome narrator can make all the characters have a unique voice. You know they are good when you know who is talking from the voice the narrator is using.

    Indies are starting to put out better productions than the big publishing houses. Often times the books are really cheap if you pick up the Kindle version. I’ve picked up both for as low as 1.99.

    How long before publishing realizes Amazon owns this market too?

    Reply
  2. […] Source?: Audiobook Sales Up 18.2% in 2016, to $2.1 Billion […]

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  3. […] Audiobook sales are up significantly for the third year in a row. […]

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