Audiobooks are the fastest growing segment in digital publishing in North America and many publishers have reported that the format are selling more units than ebooks. Meanwhile in the United Kingdom the public has yet to embrace the format. According to research from YouGov, 55% of people think that listening to a book is a ‘lesser’ way of consuming a book, while only a paltry 10% felt that listening to a book was equal to reading it.
Companies such as Audible has a lot of work to do to alter the perception of audiobooks in the United Kingdom. More than eight in ten people (83%) say that they never listen to audiobooks, whilst just 6% say they listen to them at least once a month.
Audiobook listeners don’t get through many audiobooks either – half say that they have listened to between just one and five in the past year. A further 14% have listened to between six and ten over the last year, whilst the heaviest users – those who have listened to 11 or more audiobooks – account for just 9% of audiobook listeners.
The United Kingdom’s audiobook market rose by 30% in 2015 – and has grown by an astonishing 170% in the past five years. Overall, the entire UK audiobook market is currently evaluated at around £91 million. The reason for lack of clarity is that Amazon owned Audible have never released any of its sales data and as the company now accounts for such a large proportion of the market it’s hard to assess accurately how much their contribution has changed the overall growth in audio sales. In July 2015, The Bookseller noted that Audible’s UK company accounts recorded sales of £29.5 million (up almost £9 million from 2013), which would support the estimate that the total UK market is around £91 million.
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.