While physical books might be going out of style, audiobook sales are on the up and up.
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Within the last year Barnes and Nobles was sold, there’s been news here and there about independent book stores struggling like never before, and the debate about whether or not physical books are out style raging on, audiobooks are on the up and up.
Previously The Daily Beast wrote that “while only 24 percent of Americans say they listened to at least one audio book in 2016, the average listener in that category consumed fifteen books in that same period, mostly on a smartphone.”
This year The Publisher’s Association, which collects and reports on data shared by many publishers across the country, released the 2018 year-end results.
All in all, estimated publisher revenue for downloaded audio increased 28.7% over 2017, meaning that, when it comes to audiobooks, publisher’s revenues grew 181.8% from 2014 to 2018. This is important, considering that audiobooks make up an estimated of 13.7% of publishers’ online sales.
What these numbers mean is that audiobook sales have an estimated worth of a whopping £69 million ($87.44 million).
Physical books, on the other hand, are down by 5%.
Considering the culture of audiobooks, and by extension book culture as a whole, these numbers all of that surprising. Step back, and think what could be the top selling audiobook…
Not only did she write the book, but she’s the voice that makes the audiobook, well, into an audiobook.
This isn’t all that surprising. If you want know the story, then why not have the author themselves tell you the story? And Michele Obama must have something to say, being a former US First Lady and mother of two, so why not have her tell you her story complete with the emotion and cadence that can be missed if you skim across the black words on a bone white page.
It’s oral tradition right there on your phone/tablet/desktop that can be played, rewound, or fast-forwarded at your time and convenience.
BBC News quotes Publishers Association chief executive Stephen Lotinga as saying that…
Audiobooks have grown phenomenally, as ever-increasing numbers of people opt to enjoy books in a way that suits new technologies and keeps pace with our busy lives.
Really? Consider this: Listening to audiobooks have less to do with having time reading a book. When reading a novel yourself, you can control how fast you read per word. The phrase ‘You can read’ can be read however faster or slowly you wish, and you can speed up between every other syllable.
So if when listening to an audiobook the speed of the speaker might have some external controls, but the control technology gives you is not as intricate of the control you have over yourself, then why listen to audiobooks if you can read much faster?
Because I can’t read a book and run on a treadmill at the same time. Because books take up valuable space in my backpack. Because I can play an audiobook in my car while I drive instead of reading and driving.
Roger Packer notes that, when polled, audiobook listeners revealed that they listened rather then read the book because “hey can do other things while listening (81%), They can listen wherever they are (80%); and Audiobooks are portable (75%)”.
The Guardian also notes that, “Lotinga said the rise in the popularity of podcasts, with the music streaming giant Spotify spending up to $500m this year buying podcast companies to tap the boom, was indirectly helping the book market.”
The same reason are moving away from CDs to streaming is the same reason why, despite the hits, UK’s took that surprise 5.4% decline.
When I think of summer reads, I think of the typical “chick-lit” with the hunky love interest and over-the-top romance. What I always forget about are the many other genres that are perfect to take off to the beach to read or even listen to while I quickly burn to a crisp. Over the last two years, autobiography has become one of my favorite genres, and I love listening to them – especially when they’re narrated by the authors. So here is my list of those perfect, inspiring autobiographies you need to be adding to your Audible or Libro.fm wishlist for summer.
If you’re a lover of Chelsea, you know her previous books have been all about how much of a hot mess her life is. They are jam packed with jokes, horror stories, and the occasional (frequent) hook-up. Her entire persona has been built up around her propensity to drink and get high and laid. I would love to say this book paints Chelsea as having it more together, but the truth is it highlights how much she doesn’t have it together… how much none of us really have it together. If you read the book, you do get to see all of the pictures of her dogs, friends, and family, but her narration adds another layer to the story she is telling in this book. Her voice cracks, you can hear her smile, and you get that authentic note of sarcasm in her tone that you may just miss in the book. If you’re wary, don’t be! The audio is under six hours, and it is all jam-packed with emotions. Warning: have some tissues ready, as you will unexpectedly be going to therapy with her.
Let’s face it: when we saw Michelle Obama as First Lady, she was never anything other than elegant and graceful. If you’ve ever found yourself wondering where her story starts, look no further! In her book, she recounts the major events in her life from growing up in a working class African American household in Chicago, to heading off to Harvard Law School, and eventually taking up residence at the most popular address in all of these United States. Through the narration, one thing remains certain: Michelle Obama maintains that same elegance and grace we came to love. She comes off so down to earth and at the same time you can tell she doesn’t take any crap. I absolutely adored reading about her adventures as daughter, student, wife, mother, and eventually First Lady. She even touches on returning to “normal” life once their stay at the White House was over. If you want a little insight as to what goes on behind closed doors at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, this book is perfect for that, too!
In 2000, Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel took us by storm as the mother-daughter-duo Lorelai and Rory Gilmore. But just how did Lauren Graham find her way to that fateful day? Well, you can find out by picking up this book! In this book, Lauren recounts all of her tales from trying to make it as an actress in New York City, to struggling as an actress in New York City, to finally landing Gilmore Girls, to life after the show, and, finally, returning to Stars Hollow one last (maybe) time. As Lauren would say here, the ending of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life does end on a cliffhanger. If you aren’t a fan of Gilmore Girls, you can still find a lot of value in this book. She has advice for writers, advice for not dieting, and advice on what the appropriate tip is for when someone returns your backpack full of cocaine completely intact. Her reflections on her early acting career are amazing, and aspiring actors and actresses will definitely find this part of the story helpful. If you’re struggling to keep your current written project active (and struggling with finding that time to do so), she will guide you on how to do that exactly. In this book, Lauren proves how well she has taken on the mothering persona of Lorelai, giving us all the motherly advice we need wedged into the four and half hours of this audiobook! Fans of Gilmore Girls, you may even forget it isn’t Lorelai narrating this story. You should beware: there are some spoilers for Gilmore GIrls: A Year in the Life if you haven’t watched that yet.
Josh Wolf is a devout Patriots fan, but we won’t hold that against him as he recounts the funniest, most embarrassing tales of single fatherhood. We talk so much about single moms, who always seem to have it much more together than they should, but Josh makes it clear single dads are sometimes hanging on by a thread. He works his way through the early days, trying to find sitters so he can go on dates, to trying to find any kind of job so he can feed his children, even running an underground sandwich shop out of his kitchen! If you’re looking for a laugh, you have come to the right book. Josh Wolf is sure to keep you in stitches as he recounts a slew of stories in which each one is more hilarious than the last.
Another comedian, another fantastic audiobook! Sarah Colonna is hilarious, and you may remember her from her time on Chelsea Lately as a reoccurring comedian on the roundtable. In this book, she not only talks about some of the hook-ups that have gone south, but she also touches on all of the things in her single life before finding love in a Seattle Seahawks kicker, Jon Ryan. When she penned the book, she wasn’t trying to make anyone feel bad about being single or not finding love on the timetable that is given to us. Instead, she was trying to get the world to understand that it is okay to be single and ask for a table for one. She didn’t know that by the end of her book it would happen for her. The truth is no one ever knows what is going to happen; things just need time to happen. But don’t fret! Sarah will keep you laughing and crying all the way to end. Reading her memoir blew me away! Let it take you away for a few hours, too.
According to Publisher’s Weekly, Children of Blood and Boneby Tomi Adeyemi won big at last night’s 24th annual Audie Awards. Held in Manhattan, the awards recognize outstanding audiobooks and spoken-word entertainment. Children of Blood and Bone is the debut novel from young author Tomi Adeyemi, and it depicts the story of a young woman called Zélie Adebola who leads her clan of maji against a brutally oppressive regime. A popular YA fantasy novel, the book the first in a highly-anticipated series and has already climbed the ranks of The New York Times’ bestseller list. The audiobook’s narrator is Bahni Turpin, known for her roles in Malcolm X and Cold Case Files.
The book took home the award for Top Audiobook of the Year, a well deserved win for such a striking debut. Other highlights of the evening included Edoardo Ballerini winning Best Male Narrator for his narration ofWatchers by Dean Koontz, Julia Whelan taking home Best Female Narrator for Educatedby Tara Westover, and Richard Armitage nabbing Best Audio Drama for The Martian Invasion of Earthby HG Wells.
Tomi Adeyemi and Bahni Turpin are no doubt very pleased with their win. We look forward to seeing more entries in this series!
We book lovers are subject to one constant anxiety: the death of literature as we know it. (Okay, two anxieties: the first is fear for our favorite characters’ lives.) The headlines are as clear as they are grim—publishing companies are losing money, physical bookstores are closing, fewer Americans are reading than ever before. It’s frightening for readers and writers alike to consider that the stories we care so much about may not always exist in a familiar, comforting way… or they might not exist at all.
These claims have varying degrees of truth. Yes, many Americans don’t read. But the claim about bookstores disappearing is only partially true: while chain bookstores have continually lost money and closed locations over the past ten years, indie bookstores are experiencing a period of growth. It’s much the same with publishing: self-publishing may be on the rise, but big publishers haven’t gone away. Despite all the grim news, the facts are a lot more optimistic. A recent financial report revealed which book genres and categories generated increasing profits in 2018—and, spoiler alert, it’s actually most of them.
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The report compares profits in 2017 and 2018, indicating which genres generated revenue over the last year. This suggests which categories will continue to grow in 2019—and should offer a reason for book lovers to relax!
Though eBooks tend to get the most buzz, particularly with the widely-discussed self-publishing trend, it’s actually audiobooks that experienced the most growth (37.1%). Surprisingly, it’s eBooks that experienced a financial loss (-3.6%). Of course, figures like that can be a little abstract—in concrete terms, eBooks still made $1 billion in 2018.
Children’s and YA books also had notable financial gains, with 3.3 and 4.5% increases respectively.
Adult books generated significant revenue ($247.4 million) although some subcategories experienced financial decline. Audiobook and hardcover sales increased; mass-market paperbacks and physical audiobooks declined significantly. Since we’re pretty sure physical audiobooks refer to CDs and cassette tapes, we’re going to have to follow up with a resounding duh. These results plainly suggest that publishing isn’t dead (or even dying).
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Since publishers’ revenue increased overall (4.6%), maybe now you’ll be able to sleep at night—unless your next favorite read is keeping you awake!
All audiobooks feel long when you’re unable to concentrate on them—so imagine how much trouble you’d have with these behemoths. To understand just how long a really long audiobook actually is, let’s compare that length to some more familiar reads. Fyodor Dostoyevsky‘s classic The Brothers Karamazovis famous as both a literary classic and a book you lied about reading, probably from fear of the decade it would take you to finish. It’s also famous for its staggering length: 824 pages and thirty-four hours. (Congratulations to yourselves for your patience, Dostoyevsky fans. And congratulations to those of you who listened to the audiobook.)
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If you’re not into the classics, the longest book you actually read might have been A Game of Thrones: a Song of Ice and Fire. That’s 624 pages and thirty-three hours. Some people call Audible the Netflix of audiobooks, but this audiobook would be much harder to binge. If these seem impossibly long to you, you’re going to have to adjust your standards. The Brothers Karamazov ranks #15 on the list of longest audiobooks, with A Song of Ice and Fire at a respectable #18. You might be asking yourself, “how are these not higher on the list?” This is how:
1. Fifty Lectures
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Takaaki Yoshimoto‘s Fifty Lecturesis what the title would indicate: fifty lectures from Yoshimoto’s long tenure as a philosopher, poet, and literary critic. But the title doesn’t give any indication of the length… which is a lot longer than fifty hours. At 113 hours and forty-three minutes, Fifty Lectures is the longest audiobook of all time. You don’t have to do the math to tell how long that is—but if you did want to do the math, you’d know that listening to the book would take five full consecutive days. Since a commercial flight around the world takes fifty-one minimum hours, it would be faster to do it twice than listen to this entire book.
When you Google search Leo Tolstoy‘s War and Peace, the first suggestion is “War and Peace is so long.” Weighing nearly four pounds, War and Peace is also 1,251 pages and 587,287 words long, making it a serious heavy-hitter. It’s no wonder that, with a monumental page count, it’s sixty-two hours and eighteen minutes long. It would be a wonder if you managed to listen to the whole thing.
4. Les Miserables
Everyone attempting to actually read Les Mis Image Via Pinterest.com
Fans sometimes affectionately, sometimes furiously, refer to Victor Hugo‘s monstrous novel as ‘The Brick.’ Since the novel is large enough to be used as a blunt force murder weapon, the comparison is appropriate. Les Miserables, a story of the rich cultural context of the French Revolution, is one of the world’s longest novels, 1,900 pages in its original French. Naturally, it also contains one of the world’s longest published sentences; this one is over 800 words. Maybe Victor Hugo can pull it off, but your English teacher won’t want you to try. If you can’t get through this sentence, you’re not going to make it through the fifty-six hours and fifty-four minutes of audiobook.
The son of a father to whom history will accord certain attenuating circumstances, but also as worthy of esteem as that father had been of blame; possessing all private virtues and many public virtues; careful of his health, of his fortune, of his person, of his affairs, knowing the value of a minute and not always the value of a year; sober, serene, peaceable, patient; a good man and a good prince; sleeping with his wife, and having in his palace lackeys charged with the duty of showing the conjugal bed to the bourgeois, an ostentation of the regular sleeping-apartment which had become useful after the former illegitimate displays of the elder branch; knowing all the languages of Europe, and, what is more rare, all the languages of all interests, and speaking them; an admirable representative of the “middle class,” but outstripping it, and in every way greater than it; possessing excellent sense, while appreciating the blood from which he had sprung, counting most of all on his intrinsic worth, and, on the question of his race, very particular, declaring himself Orleans and not Bourbon; thoroughly the first Prince of the Blood Royal while he was still only a Serene Highness, but a frank bourgeois from the day he became king; diffuse in public, concise in private; reputed, but not proved to be a miser; at bottom, one of those economists who are readily prodigal at their own fancy or duty; lettered, but not very sensitive to letters; a gentleman, but not a chevalier; simple, calm, and strong; adored by his family and his household; a fascinating talker, an undeceived statesman, inwardly cold, dominated by immediate interest, always governing at the shortest range, incapable of rancor and of gratitude, making use without mercy of superiority on mediocrity, clever in getting parliamentary majorities to put in the wrong those mysterious unanimities which mutter dully under thrones; unreserved, sometimes imprudent in his lack of reserve, but with marvellous address in that imprudence; fertile in expedients, in countenances, in masks; making France fear Europe and Europe France! Incontestably fond of his country, but preferring his family; assuming more domination than authority and more authority than dignity, a disposition which has this unfortunate property, that as it turns everything to success, it admits of ruse and does not absolutely repudiate baseness, but which has this valuable side, that it preserves politics from violent shocks, the state from fractures, and society from catastrophes; minute, correct, vigilant, attentive, sagacious, indefatigable; contradicting himself at times and giving himself the lie; bold against Austria at Ancona, obstinate against England in Spain, bombarding Antwerp, and paying off Pritchard; singing the Marseillaise with conviction, inaccessible to despondency, to lassitude, to the taste for the beautiful and the ideal, to daring generosity, to Utopia, to chimeras, to wrath, to vanity, to fear; possessing all the forms of personal intrepidity; a general at Valmy; a soldier at Jemappes; attacked eight times by regicides and always smiling; brave as a grenadier, courageous as a thinker; uneasy only in the face of the chances of a European shaking up, and unfitted for great political adventures; always ready to risk his life, never his work; disguising his will in influence, in order that he might be obeyed as an intelligence rather than as a king; endowed with observation and not with divination; not very attentive to minds, but knowing men, that is to say requiring to see in order to judge; prompt and penetrating good sense, practical wisdom, easy speech, prodigious memory; drawing incessantly on this memory, his only point of resemblance with Caesar, Alexander, and Napoleon; knowing deeds, facts, details, dates, proper names, ignorant of tendencies, passions, the diverse geniuses of the crowd, the interior aspirations, the hidden and obscure uprisings of souls, in a word, all that can be designated as the invisible currents of consciences; accepted by the surface, but little in accord with France lower down; extricating himself by dint of tact; governing too much and not enough; his own first minister; excellent at creating out of the pettiness of realities an obstacle to the immensity of ideas; mingling a genuine creative faculty of civilization, of order and organization, an indescribable spirit of proceedings and chicanery, the founder and lawyer of a dynasty; having something of Charlemagne and something of an attorney; in short, a lofty and original figure, a prince who understood how to create authority in spite of the uneasiness of France, and power in spite of the jealousy of Europe, — Louis Philippe will be classed among the eminent men of his century, and would be ranked among the most illustrious governors of history had he loved glory but a little, and if he had had the sentiment of what is great to the same degree as the feeling for what is useful.
That sentence was pretty much a brick of text all by itself.
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David McCullough‘s biography of former U.S. President Harry S. Truman is 1,120 pages and 464,000 words, a giant clocking in at fifty-three hours and twenty minutes of audiobook time. Think that’s wild? You’d be right—and at $94 to listen, the price is even crazier. Truman might not be the longest audiobook, but it is the most expensive. If the length doesn’t deter you, the cost might… or maybe your interest in Harry S. Truman surpasses all your other instincts.