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Why Audiobooks are Gaining in Popularity

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Posted on 8 April 2021



Audiobooks, audiobooks publishing industry, Audiobook Publishers


As per industry estimates, audiobooks likely to experience over 25% growth till 2027. The ease-of-accessibility for physically abled and non-English speaking groups are fostering growth                                                                                                  

Audiobooks have gained in popularity in the last three years and it looks like the pandemic-induced lockdown has only increased people’s appetite for audiobooks. It helped them to get a personalized audio experience anytime and anyplace. In its report, trade publication IBISWorld said that the audiobooks publishing industry in the U.S. in 2021 will be worth $1.3 billion. Currently the U.S. and China are the top two countries for audiobooks, making up for about one-third of the market. Other countries have 2/3rd share of the audiobook business and are catching up fast. In comparison, the sale of printed books is around $145 billion overall.

The Publishing Industry

According to a report in Publishersweekly.com, some of the world’s major publishers have invested millions of dollars to set up audiobook recording studios and sign up voiceover narrators to speed up production. This has led to an 18% increase in the number of new audiobook titles that have been released. In 2019, approximately 60,303 new titles were produced, which is a huge increase from the 44,685 new titles that were issued a year earlier.

Indian business news portal businessworld.in said Harper Collins reported that 25% of their digital revenue came from audiobooks downloads and this revenue has increased 5% from 2018.

Why People Prefer Audiobooks?

The pandemic resulted in bookstores being closed for more than three months in many countries, so people switched to audiobooks to keep their interest in reading alive. Although many bookstores opened later, thousands across the world remained closed. In order to ensure that people remained glued to reading, major retailers and publishers gave away free content, to get even more people turned onto digital audiobooks.

One important factor that has contributed to the rise in audiobook sales is the increasing localization option which allows for translating/dubbing an audiobook into several languages.

Here are a few reasons why people are moving toward audiobooks over printed versions:

Good for Mental Health

According to a report by the Audiobook Publishers Association and Edison Research, over 73% of audiobook users say that listening to audiobooks is relaxing and about 55% of them said that they listen to an audiobook when they want some time for themselves. Both these numbers are pretty huge.

Get More Time to Read

Although there’s not much difference between reading an actual book versus listening to a book, audiobooks help people squeeze more reading into their daily lives. Now imagine one listening to a book through a smartphone or smart speaker while doing other chores like going for a small walk or running errands or even picking up groceries. It also helps them finish a book much faster and pick up another book quicker for reading.

The Future of Audiobooks

The upsurge in people’s interest in digital storytelling shows that the time for audiobooks has come and as they soar in popularity, they are also becoming technologically advanced. Here’s how the future of audiobooks looks like:

  1. Audiobooks without narrators

We have all heard about autonomous cars but how about narrator-less books? While we still see professional artists or authors reading the books, the day is not far when artificial intelligence (AI) will take over and read the entire book. As AI technology improves, publishers will mass-produce audiobooks resulting in faster time to market and cheaper audiobooks. Today we are at a point where we can distinguish between a human and a computerized voice, but the audiobooks of the future will be as close and real to the human voice as they can get with improving technology.

  1. Rising Competition

Audiobooks are not competing with printed books or e-books, they are competing with music streaming apps, TV stations, youtube, podcasts, and more. With the convenience offered by Bluetooth hands-free devices, listening is on the rise, so audiobooks will have to compete with channels and apps.

  1. Engaging Content

Listening to one thing continuously can become boring and monotonous. In order to ensure people don’t feel bored or find a reason to ditch their audiobooks, publishers might get creative and introduce engaging content. With the help of AI, you might also get the voice emulation of your favorite actor or even your parents who will read the book for you.

  1. Language Translation

A major part of the world doesn’t speak English and similarly, most people in the world are at best bi-lingual, which means an audiobook published in English or any other bestseller in other languages will be out of bounds for them. Future technology will allow audiobooks to be translated to other languages with ease. For all you know, the audiobook will be both in the native language, English plus the language of the customer’s choice.

Conclusion

Audiobooks are a great way for people to be entertained and get information on the go. Most people juggling work and family find it hard to fit reading into their busy schedules, however, audiobooks make that simple. The world’s top tech companies like Google, Amazon, and large publishers are moving toward the audiobook business as the industry is growing at a fast pace and clocking in billions of dollars in downloads.

Straive can help you with your audiobook needs. We have worked with several publishers and have helped them launch audiobooks at scale and at a speed that very few can match. Read more about us at https://www.spi-global.com/industries/publishing/

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