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Explosive Growth In Audiobook Titles
Brings Estimated $1.3 Billion Sales In 2013
October 8, 2014

(VOXtra) - If you're narrating audiobooks, your job market keeps getting bigger and bigger.

The Audio Publishers Association (APA) today reports that twice as many audiobooks were published in 2013 than in 2012, "marking two years in a row that the industry has doubled the number of titles published."

Estimated audiobook retail sales in 2013 totaled $1.3 billion.

This comes from the APA's 2014 Annual Survey of Members, conducted last spring by Management Practice, an independent research firm.

Based on the data from reporting publishers, the report finds 35,713 titles were published in audiobook format in 2013 - more than double the number from the previous year’s 16,309.

The growth is explosive, considering that only 6,200 titles were released in 2010.


Also in the APA sales report:

Net sales in dollars are up 12% over the prior year’s revenues. Based on the net sales from the reporting publishers to the annual survey, the APA estimates industry retail sales at $1.3 billion.

Returns continued to decrease in 2013 - down to 7.5 %, which is one-third of the return rate a decade ago. This all-time low rate of return can be attributed in part to the rapid rise in sales of digital audiobooks.

The digital download continues to reign supreme with a full 70% of all audiobooks sold being in the digital format. Revenues from digital audiobooks are also on the rise. Downloads represented 62% of net sales in 2013 vs. 54% in 2012.

The unabridged format still dominates, with 91% of units sold being unabridged.

Fiction titles still far surpass non-fiction, with nearly 80% of all audiobook units sold being works of fiction.

"These patterns have held steady with virtually no change in statistics year over year," the APA notes.

The APA is a not-for-profit trade association that advocates the common, collective business interests of audio publishers. Members include audio publishing companies and allied business including voice actors.

For information about the APA, please visit

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Comments (5)
J. Christopher Dunn
10/10/2014 at 8:53 PM
Steady growth is a good thing. I'm wondering what the point of saturation will be and if the number of available titles eventually drive down the price of a download. I hope the industry can sustain the momentum without a collapse.
Conchita Congo
10/9/2014 at 12:25 PM
Stepping into Audiobooks for the first time & loving it!
It's challenging, rewarding & super creative.
Even I can leave an indelible footprint!
Philip Banks
10/9/2014 at 10:33 AM
As I walked along Portgordon beach I spotted a passing Haddock.

"Alan" I called, for t'was his name "news on audio book sales" I continued.

He leapt from the water and was grabbed by a passing Osprey. Early indications are that being eaten by an Osprey is preferable to hearing news from the audiobook market.

I placed a note of condolence addressed to Alan's parents in a bottle then launched it into the Moray Firth; it was the right thing to do.
Bill Rogers
10/9/2014 at 8:12 AM
Yes! Massive new sales! How much will you bet that those sales generate absolutely no increase in the already abysmally small talent fees paid to the poor shmucks who narrate them?
Ed (Ed-VO) Waldorph
10/9/2014 at 8:07 AM
Great article. If those reading this have not seen the Wall Street Journal article of Aug. 2013, it is a must read

While these numbers seem huge, simple math shows that publishers net revenue (after returns, discounts and promotions) was approximately $36,000 per title. Unit figures are harder to obtain since many audiobooks are available by subscription or packaged with ebooks. The WSJ estimates that average sales of audiobooks averaged $20/unit.

Here's a sobering number, though. Amazon reports that the average ebook author made less than $500 per title.
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