Audiobook Trends for 2019

The audiobook market is exploding everywhere and is easily the fastest-growing sector of publishing today. In the last twelve months, the market in the U.S.—the largest in the world—saw 47 percent year-on-year growth. That’s on top of the $2.8 billion generated in the U.S. in 2017. For the first time, half of all Americans over 12 years old report having listened to an audiobook. The uptick in audiobook sales have even encouraged The New York Times to debut a monthly audiobook bestseller list. 

Insights into the trend (below) suggest it’s not going away anytime soon, and the global appetite for books is poised to cross even more from market to market with the help of top-notch localization.

Key Highlights:   

  • In 2018, Google launched an audiobook store in 45 different countries and nine different languages.
  • Audible UK’s 2017 revenues grew by 45 percent over the year before.
  • More than 61 percent of Canadian publishers are now producing digital audiobooks — up from 37 percent in 2016.
  • The Audiobook Publishers Association (APA) annual consumer survey shows that 56 percent of audiobook listeners say that they are making “new” time to listen to audiobooks, and subsequently consuming more books. The APA together with Edison Research also foundthat audiobook listeners read or listened to an average of 15 books in the last year.
  • The majority of people who purchase an audiobook are under the age of 45.
  • Smartphone usage continues to grow, with 73 percent of listeners using these devices, a figure that rose from 47 percent in 2018, and 29 percent in 2017. A little more than half listen primarily at home, while 32 percent listen mostly in the car.
  • Smart speakers are increasingly impacting the audiobook world, with 24 percent of listeners saying they have listened on a smart speaker (“Alexa, play my audiobook”) and five percent saying they listen most often on a smart speaker.
  • Audible is reported to be the highest employer of actors in New York. The audiobook publishing industry in the U.S. is responsible for the direct employment of about 4,400 people each year, a figure anticipated to increase in 2019.

Some titles considered “backlist” don’t have their audio rights included under their publishing contract.

Curious how your audiobooks would do in another language? Consider localizing them! Contact CMI now to discuss how it can be done.