Major publishers are continuing to see strong gains from audiobooks in the first quarter of 2018. This is a period in which audiobook retailers such as Audible are experiencing higher than average revenue due to people getting new gadgets for Christmas.
HarperCollins stated that downloadable audio accounted for about 25% of all digital revenue in the recent period. Digital sales represented 22% of consumer revenue for the quarter—the same percentage the format accounted for in the quarter last year. Digital basically increased by 5% in the first three months of 2018.
Simon & Schuster CEO Carolyn Reidy said sales of digital audio jumped 43% in the period. This is primarily attributed to a 15% increase in the number of audiobooks they digitize and Reidy expects another 10% increase in 2018. The strong performance by digital audio helped to counter slight declines in print and e-book sales.
Hachette has disclosed that 21% of their revenue derived from audiobook and ebook sales. The company generated €442 million in revenue. CEO Michael Pietsch said, “Our good first quarter results came from many places: #1 bestselling books by HBG house authors James Patterson, David Baldacci, Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child, and Brad Meltzer, from backlist hits like You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero, Obama: An Intimate Portrait by Pete Souza, and Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, and from breakout bestsellers including Michael Isikoff & David Corn’s riveting Russian Roulette, Jennifer Palmieri’s powerful Dear Madam President, Peter Brown’s delightful The Wild Robot Escapes and Vashti Harrison’s inspiring Little Leaders.
“Since Q1’s end we’ve had the spectacular news that Andrew Sean Greer’s brilliant and joyful novel Less was awarded the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and that Attica Locke received the Edgar Award for Best Novel for Bluebird, Bluebird. Our biggest book of the year, James Patterson and President Bill Clinton’s thriller The President Is Missing, goes on sale next month, and is certain to be a major publishing event.”
Penguin Random House did not break down revenue for the quarter, but in the past four months they have been expanding their audiobook unit. They hired Katie Bilboa as a new Executive Producer and will report to Richard Lennon, Editorial Director, Audio. Derek Withshire was tapped for the the role of Marketing & Communications Executive. Derek has become well known across the UK literary scene and beyond for his work on the Mostly Lit podcast and will play a key role in marketing campaigns across the full Penguin Random House audiobook list as part of the UK’s only in-house audiobook marketing unit.
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 CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and Verge.