Audiobooks are a $1 Billion+ Industry and Showing Steady Growth
According to the Bowker Market Research consumer survey (titled “Understanding the Audiobook Buyer in the Digital Age”), audiobook listeners love the convenience and ease of the format, especially during car travel. In fact, the overwhelming majority of survey respondents said they listened primarily while in the car and choose audio for its portability. More than two-thirds of recent audiobook buyers described audiobooks as relaxing and a good way to multi-task, also stating that an audio performance makes some books more interesting than they would be in print.
One of the biggest challenges in this current digital age is catching, and keeping, the audiobook listener’s attention, when competing with so many other forms of entertainment. Bowker survey respondents reported that they devoted about 3.5. hours a week listening to audiobooks while watching TV and movies, reading print or e-books, listening to music, using social media, and playing video games all commanded more of their leisure time.
How is the move to digital affecting the landscape?
The consumer survey shows that those who prefer download and streaming formats are younger and more affluent than those who listen mostly on CD.
The Bowker survey also shows that the greatest potential for sales growth exists in these digital formats. Of those respondents who purchased an audiobook digital download in the past year, nearly 60% stated that they plan to buy more often in that format in the future.
Creative bundling of audiobooks with physical and e-books could be one avenue to adding new listeners. About one-third of consumer respondents said they might spend more on audiobooks in the future if they were bundled with another product like the hardcover, paperback or e-book of that same title.
What challenges and opportunities exist for the audiobook industry?
Educating consumers is also a potential route to expansion. The overwhelming majority of the consumer survey respondents seemed unaware that MP3-CDs are less expensive than traditional CDs and some did not even know whether their CD player had the ability to play MP3-CDs. A full 10% admitted that they were unaware that downloading audiobooks digitally was an option while slightly fewer claimed they didn’t know what file format to buy or were concerned about download time, technical difficulties or losing the file.