Audiobook sales in 2017 rose 22.7%, to $2.5 billion, over the previous year and unit sales rose 21.5%, according to the Audio Publishers Association's annual sales survey. This marks the sixth year in a row that audiobooks have had double-digit growth over the previous year. The APA's sales survey was conducted by research firm Management Practice.
At the same time, a consumer survey by Edison Research found, among other things:
- More than half (54%) of audiobook listeners are under the age of 45.
- Audiobook users also read print books: 83% of frequent listeners had read a print book in the last year and 79% had read an e-book.
- Audiobook users read or listened to an average of 15 books during the year, and more than half (57%) agreed that "audiobooks help you finish more books."
- More and more audiobook listeners use smartphones: the percentage of listeners most often using smartphones to listen to audiobooks is 47% in 2018 vs. 29% in 2017 and 22% in 2015.
- Smart speakers are becoming more popular: 24% of listeners said they have listened to audiobooks on a smart speaker and 5% said they listen most often on a smart speaker.
- More than half (53%) of listeners say they most often listen to audiobooks at home and 36% say their car is where they listen most often.
- The top three activities while listening to audiobooks are driving (65%), relaxing before going to sleep (52%) and doing housework/chores (45%).
- The most popular genres in audiobooks were mysteries/thrillers/suspense, science fiction and romance.
Chris Lynch, co-chair of the APA's Research Committee and president and publisher of Simon & Schuster Audio, commented: "In addition to the continued stellar sales growth, the results show that our customers are finding more opportunities to listen. Our heaviest users are book lovers in all formats, and their increased use of audiobooks is allowing them to get through more books, more quickly."