Tuesday, October 11, 2016
Are Audiobooks Hurting Bookstores, Promoting Illiteracy?
Audiobook sales are skyrocketing. Last year, sales of audiobooks jumped 20.7% over the prior year. This year’s sales should top two billion dollars. Is this a good trend for the book industry?
Normally, one celebrates wild growth as it relates to books. However, audiobooks pose a few problems – or advantages – depending on how you see- or hear things.
First, since audiobooks are listened to and not read, this means that “readers” are getting used to consuming books in a non-traditional way. Though there are some benefits to experiencing a book audibly, it doesn’t necessarily contribute to growing a more literate nation, certainly not the way reading would.
Second, because most audiobook sales come as a result of digital downloads – and not physical CDs – fewer people are going to make bookstore purchases. Indeed, audio downloads are up 85% in a year and they make up 84% of all audiobook sales.
However, any growth in the book world is a welcome one. Many people have good reasons to turn to an audiobook, including:
· Listening on the go: car, exercising, plane.
· Helps the visually-impaired.
· Fills a void for the reading-impaired.
· Provides theatrics – with voice, sound effects, and more to the story.
· Helps people multi-task while doing other things.
· Provides a way for a couple or family to enjoy a book, like a movie, together.
Audiobooks, for all of their growth and success, still can expand further. Audiobook sales only represent 3.3% of all book revenue.
I think that audio books will grow because:
· Foreign-speaking Americans can enjoy books in their own language.
· New immigrants seeking to learn English may turn to audiobooks.
· So many people spend time on the road, traveling for business or pleasure or errands, and they will like audiobooks.
· Podcast-listening is up so this could follow that trend.
· Audiobooks provide great quality audio, narration, and content in such a wide variety of genres – there’s something for everyone.
· The number of audiobooks has grown wildly – and they are available 24-7 from any device (in 4 years, the number of newly released audiobooks grew by 500% to 35,574 annually in 2015).
Would I love to see print books and bookstore sales grow along with the audiobook craze? Absolutely. But I still cheer any book sale and hope the industry continues to grow across the board.
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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2016 ©.