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In Double-Digit Climb, Audiobook Sales
Jump 23% To Over $2.5 Billion In 2017
June 21, 2018

(VOXtra) - A six-year trend of double-digit growth in the audiobook industry propelled sales to over $2.5 billion in 2017, and a 21.5% jump in the number of units sold, according to estimates from the Audio Publishers Association's (APA) annual sales survey.

A corresponding APA survey of consumers who listen to audiobooks finds that slightly more than half (54%) are under the age of 45. And of the more than 46,000 titles produced in 2017, the most popular genres were:
  • Mysteries/Thrillers/Suspense
  • Science Fiction, and
  • Romance.
"There is a lot of great news coming out of these surveys," says Chris Lynch, Co-Chair of the APA's Research Committee and President and Publisher at Simon & Schuster Audio.

"In addition to the continued stellar sales growth, the results show that our customers are finding more opportunities to listen. Our heaviest users are book lovers in all formats, and their increased use of audiobooks is allowing them to get through more books, more quickly."


The APA is a not-for-profit trade association for companies and individuals in the audiobook industry, which advocates the business interests of members and is a key source of the industry's education and networking.

The annual sales survey of APA members who publish audibooks was conducted this spring by Management Research to gather industry sales data, including gross sales, sales by various formats, and channel discounts, the APA reports.

The national consumer study was conducted this April by Edison Research of Americans ages 18 years and older who have ever listened to a complete audiobook. The study included a number of focus groups and over 1,000 online interviews, and data was weighted to the overall audiobook market, notes the APA.


Much of the data from the surveys is available to APA members only. Yet the APA summarizes these key findings from the consumer study.

Who listens to audiobooks? 
  • 54% of audiobook listeners are under the age of 45. 
  • Audiobook listeners consume books in all formats with 83% of frequent listeners having read a hardcover or paperback in the last 12 months and 79% having read an ebook.
  • Audiobook listeners read or listened to an average of 15 books in the last year, and 57% of listeners agreed or strongly agreed that "audiobooks help you finish more books."  
How and where are they listening? 
  • Smartphone usage continues to grow with 73% of listeners using these devices and an increase in the percentage of listeners using this device most often: 47% in 2018 vs. 29% in 2017 and 22% in 2015.
  • Smart speakers are increasingly impacting the audiobook world with 24% of listeners saying they have listened on a smart speaker and 5% saying they listen most often on a smart speaker.
  • 53% of listeners say they most often listen at home and 36% say their car is where they listen most often.
  • The top three activities while listening to audiobooks are: driving (65%), relaxing before going to sleep (52%), and doing housework/chores (45%).
  • 73% of audiobook consumers agree that listening to audiobooks is relaxing.
  • 55% agreed or strongly agreed that they chose to listen to an audiobook "when they want some time to themselves."   
Additional Key Findings
  • Of the over 46,000 titles produced on audio in 2017, the most popular genres purchased were Mysteries/Thrillers/Suspense, Science Fiction, and Romance.
  • The top three reasons why people enjoy listening to audiobooks are: 1) They can do other things while listening (81%); 2) They can listen wherever they are (80%); and 3) Audiobooks are portable (75%).
  • Libraries remain major access channels for audiobooks and important drivers of audiobook discovery. 52% of people said borrowing from a library/library website was important or very important for discovering new audiobooks. 43% of listeners said they downloaded an audiobook from a library and 14% said that most often use the library for their digital listening.  
For more about the APA and its programs - including the annual Audie Awards® competition and annual conference (APAC), please visit

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Comments (1)
gary gerard
6/21/2018 at 12:39 PM
Isn't that wonderful?! Audio book sales are jumping! I wonder who's getting most of the revenue for narrating all those audio books?? Bet most of it is going to union VO talent with major agent representation like Paradigm and Atlas.

I did a couple audio books awhile back; spent hours and hours. You know what I earned from it? Zero. It was a minor author and a small publisher. The real opportunities are all locked up by union folks just like everything else in the VO world. Those of us who are unfortunate enough to be categorized "non union" are out of it, and it's very frustrating.
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