Audiobook Sales Jump 24 Percent in 2015

AudiobookerAstronomical growth continues for the audiobook format, the fastest growing segment of publishing. A just-released survey from the Audio Publishers Association show a 24% increase in 2015 sales and a continuing shift to digital downloads. Clearly, the number of audiobook listeners is on the rise—and fast! But a NoveList survey of public and school librarians shows 42 percent of public libraries report that only one to five percent of their budgets are spent on audio. It just might be time to re-evaluate that next library budget request to meet the preferences of digital customers. I’ll be sharing lots more audio information as we move into June, which is Audiobook Month here at the Booklist Reader. Stay tuned!

Here’s the full press release from the Audio Publishers Association:

Audio Publishers Association LogoThe Audio Publishers Association released the results from their annual sales survey, conducted by the independent research firm Management Practice in the spring of 2016, which revealed that the audiobook industry is continuing to expand in sales as well as the number of titles being published in the format.

Based on information from responding publishers, the APA estimates that audiobook sales in 2015 totaled more than $1.77 billion, up 20.7% over 2014. Unit sales were also up 24.1%. This is the second consecutive year that audiobook sales have expanded by 20%. Additionally, 9,630 more titles were published as audio than in the previous year—bringing the number of audiobooks published in 2015 up to 35,574. That is an increase of 29,374 more audiobook titles published per year from only five years ago.

The growth of the industry is largely due to the growing popularity of the digital download and increasing awareness and profile for the audiobook format. Sales of digital downloads continue to rise—showing an increase of over 34% in both dollars and units sold from the previous year.

Year # of Audiobook Titles Published

2015    35,574
2014    25,944
2013    24,305
2012    16,309
2011       7,237

Sales for adult titles continue to dominate the market and account for 90.4% of overall audiobook sales. Fiction continues to represent the vast majority of audiobooks sold with roughly 76.3% of audios being fiction vs. 23.7% non-fiction. The unabridged format continues to predominate with 96.3% of audios sold being in this format.



About the Author:

Mary Burkey is an independent library consultant in Columbus (OH). An enthusiastic audiophile, she has served on all four of ALA's audiobook award committees as well as the Audies. In addition to writing the "Voices in My Head" column for Booklist, she is the author of Audiobooks for Youth: A Practical Guide to Sound Literature (ALA, 2013). Follow her on Twitter at @mburkey.

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