Digital and CD sales of audiobooks are poised to sell 22 million units by the end of the year and generate close to £164 million, up 12.3% from £146 million in 2019, marking the seventh consecutive year of growth. One of the big things that are fueling the growth are first time listeners, which will make up half of all of the audiobook sales in 2020.
The Nielsen’s latest Books & Consumers survey stated that audiobooks now make up a 34% share of weekly reading, up from 33% in 2019 and 25% in 2017. E-books have a 27% share of reading, slipping 1% on the previous year, with print at 39%—level with its 2019 figure, but down 8% on 2017 total. The results seem to suggest audio’s increasing reach into reading has come at the expense of print books.
Nielsen thinks that the lockdown has something to do with audiobooks continuing to grow and ebook sales holding steady. Many people can simply buy audiobooks directly from Audible, Storyel or other online retailers. The public library system also provides digital content, and UK librarie have seen a huge loan increase.
Data found that people tend to favour audiobooks over podcasts when listening with children, before bed and for pleasure or relaxation in general. However, podcasts are more popular for exercising, self-improvement and for “complex listens”. Nielsen commented, “We continue to see the audiobook market grow in 2020, in part thanks to increased listenership in the lockdown period. Happily, we also see uplifts in e-book sales year on year.”
Nielsen said they will release more data in the next few weeks, and we should get more information on what audiobook retailers people dig the most and sales information on digital audio vs CD’s.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.