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Audiobook New Titles Soar 39% in 2020;
Listeners Tell Their Favorite Genres
June 1, 2021

(VOXtra) - If you're narrating in the category of books called "Mysteries/Thrillers/Suspense," you're voicing the most popular audiobook genre, according to the Audio Publishers Association's latest Consumer Survey of American audiobook listeners, ages 18 and up.

Yet "Self Help," "Business" and "Romance" titles also enjoyed "sharp increases in interest," according to the report, conducted for the APA by Edison Research.

And in a companion report also released to the public today, the APA's annual member Sales Survey found that a record number of more than 71,000 audiobooks were published in 2020 - a 39% growth over 2019.

This brought publishers a 12% jump in revenue to $1.3 billion in 2020 - the ninth straight year of double-digit growth for the them, according to the APA.


The Consumer Survey detected a shift in listening location from the car to the home, as American commuter patterns were dramatically affected by COVID pandemic stay-at-home orders. In the current survey, 55% said they listened most often at home, compared with 43% in 2019. And only 30% cited the car as their main listening location in 2020, compared to 41% the previous year.

Also notable from the surveys:
  • 67% of audiobook consumers agreed that one of the reasons they enjoy listening to audiobooks is to reduce screen time.
  • 70% of consumers agreed that audiobooks are a good choice for relaxing.
  • Parents have been discovering audiobooks as an outlet for their children during the pandemic. The percentage of parents of children ages 17 and younger who say their children listened to audiobooks last year was 49%, up from 35% previously.
  • The percentage of Americans 18+ who have ever listened to an audiobook is now 46%, up from 44% in 2020.
  • Membership in audiobook services increased, with 38% of listeners indicating they subscribe to at least one such service.
  • 56% of audiobook listeners are under the age of 45; this is up from 52% in 2020.
Meanwhile, key corresponding data from Edison Research's "Share of Ear®" report, which tracks daily listening habits for Americans 13+, also found:
  • The overall share of time spent listening to audio (Share of Ear) for audiobooks has grown 60% since 2017.
  • Daily audiobook listeners spend more time listening to books than any other form of audio (radio, podcasts, etc.).
  • Daily reach of audiobook consumption has grown 71% since 2017.
  • Daily audiobook listeners spend nearly 2 hours more per day listening to audio than the general population (5:35 vs 3:46).

APA's Consumer Survey is a national survey of Americans ages 18 and older who have ever listened to a complete audiobook. Edison Research completed 957 online interviews in January/February 2021. 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.

The Edison Research Share of Ear® Study is based upon the Q1 2021 Share of Ear® report comprising over 4,000 interviews with Americans 13+. Respondents were asked to keep a comprehensive diary of all listening over one sample day. Diaries were administered either online or offline, and in English and Spanish.

The Sales Survey was conducted by InterQ Research in the spring of 2021 for the APA to gather industry sales data, including gross sales, sales by various formats, and channel discounts. This is a national survey of Audio Publishers Association members who publish audiobooks.Twenty-sever publishers provided data, including Audible Inc., Hachette Audio, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House, and Simon & Schuster.

Formed in 1986, the APA is a not-for-profit trade association that advocates the common, collective business interests of audio publishers, and is 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.

For more about the APA - including how to join, and it's many programs (the annual Audie Awards competition, APAC conference, networking and education events), visit: www.

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