Thursday, October 9, 2014

Audiobooks Show A Lot Of Growth

The Audio Publishers Association just released results from its 2014 Annual Survey of Members and it shows there is significant growth in the number of audiobooks being sold.

The audiobooks only make up a few percentage points of all books sold, there is reason to see it as a growth area.

Based on the data from reporting publishers, the study, which shows 2013 sales numbers, found that 35,713 titles published in audiobook format in 2013. This is more than double the number of titles released in 2012. And in 2012, the number of release doubled what was released in 2011. If the trend continues, we could see over 70,000 audiobook releases in 2014. In 2010, just 6,200 titles were released in audio.

However, sales growth is not proportionate to the number of released titles, meaning more audiobooks are each selling fewer copies. Net sales in dollars are up 12% over the prior year’s revenues. Based on the net sales from the reporting publishers to the annual survey, the APA estimates industry retail sales at $1.3 billion.

The APA reported that returns continued to decrease in 2013 – down to 7.5 %, which is one-third of the return rate a decade ago. It says: “This all-time low rate of return can be attributed in part to the rapid rise in sales of digital audiobooks.”

One reason returns are down is that audiobooks are increasingly being sold as downloads, not hard copies. As many as 70% of all audiobooks sold are coming in the digital format. Revenues from digital audiobooks are also on the rise. Downloads represented 62% of net sales in 2013 vs. 54% in 2012.

“The unabridged format still dominates,” says the APA, “with 91% of units sold being unabridged. Fiction titles still far surpass non-fiction with nearly 80% of all audiobook units sold being works of fiction. These patterns have held steady with virtually no change in statistics year over year.”

Audiobooks are great for a number of reasons – they help kids learn, they assist the sight impaired, they dramatize books in a theatrical way, and are great for long car rides. They can be listened to anywhere, anytime.  Have you experienced an audiobook of late? According to the figures coming from APA, you may very well be listening to one very shortly.
Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2014

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