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Sci Fi & Fantasy Titles Top Audiobook Categories Published In 2021 - A Year of Double-Digit Growth
June 7, 2022

(VOXtra) - If you're narrating Science Fiction and Fantasy audiobooks, you're in the top category of titles published last year, according to a new survey conducted for the Audio Publishers Association (APA).

Sci Fi/Fantasy "narrowly edged out Mystery/Thrillers/Suspense as the most popular genre by percentage of sales" in 2021, the APA reports. Following close behind were Romance and Fiction, as a percentage of sales.

For revenue growth, Romance jumped 75% over the previous year. Following were the Self-Help (34%) and Science Fiction (32%) genres.

The Children and Young Adult categories also posted increases in revenue.

Details of the APA's annual Sales Survey of members conducted by InterQ - and a companion 2022 Consumer Survey conducted by Edison Research - are restricted to APA members. But the APA today released highlights.


Overall, audiobook publishers' revenue grew 25% in 2021 to $1.6 billion, marking the tenth straight year of double-digit growth for publishers, according to the Sales Survey.

Additionally, the Consumer Survey found:
  • The percentage of Americans 18+ who have ever listened to an audiobook is now 45%, up from 44% in 2020.
  • Membership in audiobook services increased, with 41% of listeners indicating they subscribe to at least one such service.
  • 54% of audiobook listeners are under the age of 45.
  • 70% of consumers agree audiobooks are a good choice for relaxing.
  • 61% of parents say their children listen to audiobooks, compared to the 35% measured in 2020. This sharp increase is almost certainly due to pandemic-related school disruptions. Listeners continue to prefer professional narration over author-read books.
Key corresponding data from an additional survey, Edison Research's Share of Ear® report, tracks daily listening habits for Americans 13+:
  • The overall share of time spent listening to audio (Share of Ear) for audiobooks has grown 106% 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 94% since 2017.
  • Daily audiobook listeners spend 2+ hours more per day listening to audio content than the general population (6:34 vs 4:11).

The APA Consumer Survey is a national survey of Americans ages 18 and older who have ever listened to a complete audiobook. Edison Research completed 1502 online interviews in January/February 2022. 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® data is based upon the Q1 2022 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 APA Sales Survey was conducted by InterQ Research in the spring of 2022 to gather industry sales data and publisher sales by various formats and genres from APA members who publish audiobooks. Twenty-eight publishers provided data, including Audible Inc., Blackstone, Brilliance Audio, Hachette Audio, Pushkin Industries, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House, Recorded Books, and Simon & Schuster.


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

Among the most recognized APA activities are the annual Audie Awards® competition, the APA's annual conference known as APAC, and numerous online and in-person member gatherings.

For more, including how to join the organization, visit

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