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Audiobooks: Your Listeners Are Affluent;
Some Performances 'Better Than Print'
October 29, 2010
When you narrate an audiobook, it's key to know who you're talking to.
And a recent survey of audiobook listeners' attitudes and behaviors by the Audio Publishers Association (APA) finds much about your listeners to bear in mind.
For one, listeners tend to be affluent, better educated than non-listeners, and use the audio format to fit more books into their lives. 
Mystery/thrillers/suspense is the most preferred type of audiobook.
And in especially good news, more than half of the survey repondents believe that some books are better experienced as audio than in print.
These findings and many more come from the APA's  2010 Consumer Survey and focus group sessions, conducted earlier this year by independent research firm, Lewis & Clark. Following are highlights from the APA.
More than one-third of adult respondents (37%) have listened to an audiobook. Also:
  • Audiobook listeners are better educated than non-listeners - 21% have completed post-graduate work or hold a doctorate degree, twice as many as non-listeners.
  • People who listen to books also have higher incomes. Listeners have an estimated median income of $56,000 and non-listeners estimated median income is $43,000.
  • The median age of audiobook listeners is 48, slightly younger than non-listeners, whose median age is 51.
  • Audiobooks are drawing young adults in large numbers. Almost one quarter (23%) of all audiobook listeners are between 18 and 24 years old. Those young adults are at least twice as likely as those in other age brackets to have made their last purchase at an online retailer or online digital store.
  • Audiobook listeners are more voracious readers of print books than non-listeners. In the past year, 90% of listeners read at least one book.
  • Frequent listeners of audiobooks (those who listened to four or more audiobooks in the past year) read a median of 15 books in the past year, compared to six books read by people who don’t listen to audiobooks.
Whether listening or reading, book lovers favor the same categories of books. Audiobook listerners specifically prefer:
  • 31% - Mystery, thrillers, suspense
  • 21% - Bestsellers
  • 20% - General fiction
  • 15% - History

For some books, listeners find audio to be the optimal format.
58% agree that an audio performance makes some books more interesting than they would be in print.
  • Nearly one-half of audiobook listeners (45%) with children under age 18 report that their children listen to audiobooks, as well. They see benefits in having their children listen to books.
  • 49% of listeners feel audiobooks increase their children’s love of reading, while 59% said it exposes them to books they might not otherwise read.
  • Teachers in focus groups agreed that audiobook listening can encourage reading and reach students who might not otherwise be exposed to the material.
Audiobooks are popular In many settings.
  • As in previous surveys, the 2010 results showed that the car is still the most popular location for listening to audiobooks. Audiobook fans are most likely to listen to audiobooks while commuting in the car (52%), but also in the car and not commuting, plus on mass transit and while travelling to a vacation destination.
  • Respondents are most likely to have started listening to audiobooks as entertainment for a long drive or trip (51%).
  • 66% of audiobook listeners said that being able to play a book in their car is the reason they choose one format over another.
  • 64% of listeners agree that audiobooks are a good way to multi-task.
Based on feedback at focus groups, the 2010 survey also probed listeners about using audiobooks at home.
A surprising 43% of audiobook fans reported using them while relaxing at home.
Personal recommendations dominate the reasons for a particular audiobook to be chosen.
  • Listeners are most likely to turn to recommendations from a friend (27%) to select an audiobook.
  • Librarians, coworkers and teachers are also influential in helping people to choose a particular audio production.
Many audiobook formats are popular.
Most listeners are still listening on CDs, but the 2009 Audio Publishers Sales Survey indicated that for the first time, the number of audiobook downloads sold exceeded the number of audiobooks on CDs sold.
The 2010 data shows that 15% of adults and 19% of teens have downloaded an audiobook.
A total of 7,500 individuals were screened from a representative national sample of adults ages 18+.
Screening was conducted through a combination of online and telephone interviews.
From the total number of individuals screened, 1,478 adults and 220 teens between the ages of 15 and 17 were chosen and agreed to participate in the survey.
Prior to fielding the quantitative portion of this study, two focus groups were conducted among audiobook users to provide an additional understanding of the market. Observations from these groups were also incorporated into the final results.
The Audio Publishers Association (APA) is a not-for-profit trade organization whose primary goals are to promote awareness of the audiobook industry, gather and disseminate industry statistics, encourage high production standards, and represent the interests of audiobook publishers.
Since 1986, the APA has worked to bring audio publishers together to increase interest in audiobooks. This includes sponsorship of the annual Audies Awards and APAC industry conference.
For more, please visit the APA's website:
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Comments (1)
11/1/2010 at 11:33 AM
Excellent news!!
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