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2012 Audiobook Sales Post Double-Digit
Growth, Dominated By Digital Downloads
November 22, 2013

(VOXtra) - It's no surprise to voice actors busily involved with audiobook narrations:

"The audiobook business is robust, and consumers can expect to find more titles than ever before in the audio format," reports the Audio Publishers Association (APA) in a summary of it's annual sales survey for 2012.

"The industry enjoyed double-digit growth in net revenue and the number of units sold in 2012," says the APA, the trade organization for publishers, producers, narrators and others involved in the industry.

According to the independent research firm Management Practice, which conducted The 2012 Audio Publishers Association Annual Survey of Members, 6 million more audiobooks were sold in 2012 than were sold in 2011, representing a 13.5% increase in revenue reported by the publishers who shared data for both 2011 and 2012.

The sales growth can be attributed in part to the fact that the total number of titles published in 2012 in the audio format has nearly doubled year over year, the APA says. The format is thriving with the widest selection of titles ever available - 13,255 titles in 2012, up from 7,237 the previous year.

Publishers continue to increase their output to ensure that the most popular trade titles are released simultaneously in print and audio formats, adds the APA.

The survey also finds a 16.7% decrease in returns of audiobooks. Returns as a percentage of overall gross sales are at an all-time low.


The digital download format is also on the rise, now representing nearly two-thirds of total audiobook units sold and more than half the industry’s revenue.

Another newer format - the mp3-CD - while still representing a tiny portion of the overall business, has more than doubled its number of units sold from 8% to 1.7%, the suvey finds. CD sales are holding firm, too, representing more than one-third of the business and nearly half the dollars earned for audiobook publishers.

The unabridged format continues to dominate with 90% of audios sold being in this format.

And fiction continues to represent the vast majority of audiobooks sold, with roughly 78.4% of audios being fiction vs. 21.6% non-fiction.

The statistics are similar for adult titles (85.9%) vs. those children and young adult (14.1%), according to the survey.


The Audio Publishers Association (APA) is a not-for-profit trade association that advocates the common, collective business interests of audio publishers. The APA consists of audio publishing companies and allied suppliers, distributors, and retailers of spoken word products, plus allied fields related to the production - including narrators - and the distribution and sale of audiobooks.

The APA also sponsors the annual APAC (Audio Publishers Association Conference), Audie Awards competition and bi-coastal networking events.

For details, including membership information, please visit

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Comments (1)
Elizabeth Holmes
11/21/2013 at 7:11 PM
GREAT news!
Thanks for sharing it, John.
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