Audiobook sales in 2016 rose 18.2%, to $2.1 billion, and unit sales jumped 33.9%, according to the Audio Publishers Association's annual sales and consumer studies, conducted respectively by Management Practice and Edison Research. This marks the third year in a row that audiobooks sales have grown by nearly 20%.
The APA attributed audio growth to an expanding listening audience: 24% of Americans (more than 67 million people) have completed at least one audiobook in the last year, a 22% increase over the 2015.
Among other findings:
- More listeners use smartphones most often to listen to audiobooks than ever before (29% in 2017 vs. 22% in 2015).
- Nearly half (48%) of frequent audiobook listeners are under 35.
- Audiobook listeners read or listened to an average of 15 books in the last year.
- More than a quarter (27% of respondents) said borrowing from a library/library website was very important for discovering new audiobooks.
- A majority of audiobook listening is done at home (57%), followed by in the car (32%).
- 68% of frequent listeners do housework while listening to audiobooks, followed by baking (65%), exercise (56%) and crafting (36%).
- The top three reasons people enjoy listening to audiobooks are: 1) they can do other things while listening; 2) audiobooks are portable so people can listen wherever they are; and 3) they enjoy being read to.
- The most popular genres last year were mysteries/thrillers/suspense, science fiction/fantasy and romance.
- 19% of all listeners used voice-enabled wireless speakers (such as Amazon Echo or Google Home) to listen to an audiobook in the last year, and for frequent listeners, that rises to 30%.