Audiobook listening is on the rise, as supported by data from The Infinite Dial 2019, which shows 50% of Americans age 12 and older have listened to an audiobook. This is the first time that audiobooks' consumer penetration has reached the 50% mark, up from 44% in 2018, according to Edison Research and Triton Digital.
Also, the multipleways audiobook listeners can digitally access their content are helping them carve out more time to listen.
The Audio Publishers Association (APA) annual consumer survey shows that half (56%) of audiobook listeners say that they are making "new" time to listen to audiobooks, and subsequently consuming more books.
MORE LISTENING IN CARS
Growth can be partly attributed to increased listening in cars, which surpassed the home as the #1 audiobook listening location in the 2019 survey. According to the APA survey, 74% of audiobook consumers listen in their car, up from 69% last year.
The home is the second most popular spot at 68%, down from 71% in 2018.
Technology is playing a major role, as the Infinite Dial survey also shows 19% percent of Americans age 12 and older have an in-dash information and entertainment system in their vehicle, up from 15% last year.
Sixty-two percent of respondents who have in-dash systems have listened to an audiobook.
Smart speaker proliferation also bodes well for future listening growth, as penetration among audiobook consumers is nearing twice the US average – 42% of audiobook listeners age 18 and older own a smart speaker.
Just over three in 10 of these owners report listening to an audiobook on their smart speaker, which points to a significant opportunity to grow the medium using this important new technology.
The APA annual consumer research study also reveals that 40% of audiobook listeners agree that audiobooks help them get through more books, and 56% of those who both listen to and read books agree that audiobooks are the preferred format to get through books quickly.
"This new data continues the positive trends we've seen the last few years. Audiobooks are becoming more mainstream, and most of the growth is coming from people using technology to find time in their day to consume more books," says Chris Lynch, Co-Chair of the APA's Research Committee, and President & Publisher of Simon & Schuster Audio.
"Hitting the 50% mark in audiobook consumer penetration is a major milestone, but the even better news is that the data points to significant upside in the future," he adds.
WHO LISTENS TO WHAT ...
Other notable points from the survey are:
- Audiobook consumers listened to an average of 6.8 audiobooks in the last 12 months, up from 6.5 in the previous survey.Twenty-four percent of consumers have listened to 10 or more in that time.
- 55% of all audiobook listeners are under the age of 45, and 51% of frequent listeners are between 18-44.
- Mystery/Thriller/Suspense remains the top genre for audiobook consumers, followed by History/Biography/Memoirsand Humor.
- Over half (55%) of audiobook listeners have also listened to a podcast in the last month, continuing the strong historical association between podcast listeners and audiobook listeners.
ABOUT THE SURVEY & APA
The study is a national survey of Americans age 18 years and older who have ever listened to a complete audiobook.
Edison Research completed 1009 online interviews in January 2019. The data was weighted to the audiobook market, as measured by The Infinite Dial, a nationally representative survey of the American media landscape conducted by Edison Research and Triton Digital.
Formed in 1987, 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 and allied fields related to the production, distribution and sale of audiobooks.
The APA serves as a networking, educational and information forum for its members; delivers programs, services and awards that serve the common business interests for its members; and promotes policies and activities that accelerate audiobook awareness and industry growth.
APA and its members work to bring all audio publishers together to create increased public awareness for the audiobook industry through joint publicity efforts, national consumer surveys, trade show exhibits, an association newsletter and the annual APA conference, APAC.