There is a press release dated 18 June 2020 from the Audio Publishers Association which tells an interesting story about the growth of audio books.
It says, in part:
“Audiobook sales and consumption continues to grow according to recently released results from the Audio Publishers Association’s annual sales survey conducted by independent research firm InterQ and their annual consumer survey conducted
by Edison Research. Based on information from responding publishers, U.S. audiobook sales in 2019 totaled 1.2 billion dollars, up 16% from the previous year, with a corresponding increase in units.
This continues the EIGHT-year trend of double-digit revenue growth.“Eight straight years of double-digit revenue growth is simply phenomenal,” says Chris Lynch, co-chair of the APA’s Research Committee and President & Publisher of Simon & Schuster Audio. “Even more encouraging are the continued upward trends in consumer listening behavior – both in how many titles they listen to per year and in their finding more time in their
day to listen.”
In addition to the sales increase, Edison Research’s national survey of American audiobook listeners ages 18 and up found that the average number of audiobooks listened to per year increased to 8.1 in 2020, up from 6.8 in 2019. The most popular audiobook genre continues to be Mysteries/Thrillers/Suspense. 57% of frequent audiobook listeners are under the age of 45; this is up from 51% in 2019. And audiobook publishers reported that there were 60,303 new titles produced in 2019, an 18% increase over 2018.
Other notable findings from the surveys include:
• Audiobook consumers place a high priority on quality of narration. Non-fiction and fiction listeners alike prefer a professional voice actor to the author as a narrator.
• For the third year in a row, more than 50% of audiobook listeners say they are making
“new” time to listen to audiobooks and consuming more books.
• A clear market for shorter audiobooks exists, with 43% of audiobook purchasers saying
they would buy an audiobook that is one to three hours long.
• The car remains the #1 overall place for listening, but the home remains the place where
people listen most often.”
From my point of view, I would agree with some of the survey’s findings. My wife and I took a long car trip recently and we had downloaded some audiobooks. One of the books was by Toni Morrison, but we couldn’t understand the author who was reading it. In principle it seems right to have the author reading, but from a listener’s point of view, a professional voice actor is a better choice. Instead, we listened to Wild Swans by Jung Chang read by Pik-Sem Lim. Ms Lim must also be Chinese and her accent adds an air of authenticity, but her diction is clear and precise. When I was doing a lot of travelling by car for business, I always had an audio book (on cassettes from the library). Some of my favourites were the Flashman and Patrick O’Brian series