While physical books might be going out of style, audiobook sales are on the up and up.
Image Via The Creative Penn
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…
It’s Michelle Obama’s Becoming.
Image Via Amazon
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.
Image Via John Grisham.com
Other big sellers were Joe Wicks’s The Fat-Loss Plan: 100 Quick and Easy Recipes with Workouts, Michael Wolff’s White House exposé Fire and Fury and John Grisham’s The Rooster Bar.
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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.
Featured Image Via The Irish Times