What’s the Deal with Audiobooks?

Library Resources | July 31, 2017

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Audiobooks have evolved to provide busy adults with a new digital listening experience filling down time with productive learning or leisure listening.

Audiobooks are making a come-back. Believe it or not, they’ve been around since the 1980s but they now offer new digital listening technologies and a modern user experience, bringing high-quality book listening into the 21st century. So where, how and when do people listen to audiobooks these days? Let’s see how the modern day listener is consuming audiobooks, and look at audiobook trends.

What types of readers listen to audiobooks and where are they listening?
According to the Audio Publishers Association (APA) 2012 data compiled by Independent Publisher, most listeners are well-educated, affluent adults of various age groups, however the average listener is 44 years old. Audiobook listeners are book lovers that embrace and consume all types of content in various formats. They like the flexibility of listening on-the-move, multitasking and filling dead hours with productive learning or leisure listening whether it’s at the gym, commuting to work or doing chores around the house.

Speed listening?  
Yes. There is such a thing. We’re all familiar with speed reading, skimming and scanning a text to search for sentences and key words to visually understand the meaning without actually sounding each word out. Some of this same logic applies to speed listening. The ear can pick up words quickly and with the new audiobook platforms and apps available, it’s possible to listen to audiobooks at 1.5x, 2x and even 3x’s the speed, according to the article, America’s unhealthy obsession with productivity is driving its biggest new reading trend, says Quartz. Typically, listening to an audiobook is slower than reading a book, about 150 words per minute (WPM) being the average listening speed.  The average adult reads text around 250 WPM. So by listening to audiobooks at 2x the speed it’s actual faster than reading the text version!

The vast majority of audiobook sales fall under the fiction category including mystery/suspense (47%), general fiction (43%) and best sellers (42%) as top genres. This year’s best sellers fall in line with these trends.

What’s trending in 2017?
Similar to streaming your favorite songs on your iPhone or Android, audiobooks are headed in same direction. Instant streaming and synchronization on multiple devices, with no apps or downloads needed, will make it simple to just press play and go. In addition, publishers are ramping up production of audiobooks. In an audiobook trends report published by Good eReader, Content Development Vice President, Anthony Geoff from Hachette Audio anticipates growth in both title counts and breadth of genres in 2017 after seeing a roughly 20% increase in title count produced through 2016.

What are they listening to?
The vast majority of audiobook sales fall under the fiction category including mystery/suspense (47%), general fiction (43%) and bestsellers (42%) as top genres. This year’s best sellers fall in line with these audiobook trends.

Top New York Times Audiobooks Best Sellers for 2017
Camino Island: A Novel by John Grisham
Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
Dragon Teeth: A Novel by Michael Crichton
Love Story: A Novel by Karen Kingsbury
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness: A Novel by Arundhati Roy
Nighthawk: The NUMA Files, Book 14 by Clive Cussler and Graham Brown
The Fix by David Baldacci
Indecent Exposure: A Stone Barrington Novel, Book 42 by Stuart Woods
16th Seduction by James Paterson and Maxine Paextro

If your library is already using EBSCO Audiobooks, listen to these titles via the EBSCO Audiobooks app for Android and Apple devices.

Webinar Replay: The Growing Popularity of Audiobooks in School and Public Libraries

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