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Who Buys Audiobooks - And Why?
APA Survey Reports Consumer Behavior
June 12, 2015
Note: VoiceOverXtra's series of reports on the audiobook narration business continues next week. The most recent report (click here) details what narrators earn - and ahead, those narrators comment on their satisfaction with that income vs. the time spent narrating. Meanwhile, the Audio Publishers Association has released these highlights to a recent consumer behavior survey on audiobook usage ...
(VOXtra) - "When purchasing an audiobook, how important is the narrator?"

That was among many questions asked and answered in a consumer behavior survey conducted this year for the Audio Publishers Association (APA). Respondents were adults 18 years or older.

Highlights of the findings have just been released, and if you're curious about the question above, here's the answer:
65% of respondents said the narrator was "very" or "somewhat" important.
Also, confirming a yearly trend, the survey conducted by independent research firm Edison Research, found audiobook usage to be rising, and that:

  • 41% of Americans have listened to an audiobook;
  • 55 million people have listened to an audiobook in the past year;
  • 70% reported having listened to three or more audiobooks; and
  • 30% reported listening to five or more audiobooks in the past year.

The APA survey also finds the age of listeners to be getting younger. One third of frequent audiobook listeners are between the ages of 25-34.

"This is no doubt due to the continued rise of the digital download," the report concludes. "The younger the listener, the more likely they are to go digital."

Seventy-three percent of all audiobook listeners and 82% of frequent users report listening to audiobooks downloaded digitally.

Also, while car trips and travel remain the preferred times to listen to audiobooks, an overwhelming 61% of listeners report listening to audiobooks while relaxing at home.

"This would account for the new statistic that one out of every four frequent listeners uses their laptop most often to listen to audiobooks," the report notes.


What are people listening to and why?

Mysteries, Thrillers and Suspense are the most popular genre, followed closely by History, Biography and Memoir and Popular Fiction. (See how this compares to what narrators told the VoiceOverXtra survey they prefer to narrate.)

Subject matter is key, as 63% of all audiobook buyers said that the subject of the book was the most important item in choosing a title.

Yet, word of mouth recommendations from friends and family remain a top motivator for buyers, followed closely by reviews, according to the APA survey.

For more report details, check this video slide presentation:

Michele Cobb, executive director of the APA, says the association is pleased with the findings.

"More listeners, younger listeners, adoption of the format outside of vehicles. The future continues to look bright for audiobooks," she says.

The APA is a not-for-profit trade association, whose members include audiobook narrators. For more about the APA and it's activities, please visit

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Comments (3)
Greg Kleist
6/12/2015 at 10:22 AM
Great report... thanks for sharing. In fact, this whole series is fascinating, especially for someone who just finished narrating his first audiobook! (That's me :-))
John Florian
6/12/2015 at 9:12 AM
Hey Pardner,
Michele Cobb tells me that Westerns would be in the category of Popular Fiction.
Ken Farmer
6/12/2015 at 7:59 AM
What category do Westerns fall in?
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