Digital book sales in the United States had one positive month this year, but for the most part, the format continues to decline month by month. Revenues were down 2.7% for the month as compared to September 2021 and eBook revenue garnered $85.9 million. Year-to-date eBook revenues were down 6.3% as compared to the first nine months of 2021 for a total of $759.2 million.
Digital audiobook sales continue to be the fastest growing segment in digital publishing. The format continued with double digit increases, 13.6% for September, coming in at $75.0 million in revenue. Physical Audio was down 20.3% coming in at $1.7 million. Year-to-date digital audiobooks was up 6.4%, coming in at $618.2 million in revenue. There is basically a hundred million dollar difference now between audiobooks and eBooks. I have a feeling that sometime in 2023, we will see audiobook sales surpass eBook sales for the first time.
In order to see where audiobook sales will go, we have to look at what happened in 2021. Publishers audiobook revenue grew 25% in 2021 to $1.6 billion, which marks the tenth straight year of double-digit growth, according to the Audio Publishers Association’s Sales Survey conducted by InterQ. Nearly 74,000 audiobooks were published in 2021, a 6% increase over 2020.
Audiobooks are simply easier to listen to. You can get engaged with a audio title when walking the dog, working out or commuting to work. There is more time during the day to listen than make the time to read on your smartphone or e-reader.
Michael Kozlowski has written about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. Newspapers and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times have picked up his articles. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.