Innovation Fuels the Thriving Audiobook Industry

Jul 11, 2023
Dimitris Passas

NOTE: This article is a republication- Source: Publishers Weekly (Sponsored by The Publishers Featured in the Article).

June is Audiobook Month—a calendar highlight since 1998, when the Audio Publishers Association (APA) introduced the tagline for its inaugural awareness and appreciation campaign. Twenty-five years later, audiobooks are making plenty of noise, confidently claiming a robust nook of the publishing landscape.

The audiobook market is entering its second decade of consecutive years of double-digit increases in audiobook sales, according to the APA’s latest data. “We revealed on June 1 that our 2022 sales survey showed the audio market had indeed achieved an 11th year of double-digit growth,” says Michele Cobb, the APA’s executive director. “The 10% increase in revenue,” compared to gains of 25% in 2021, “indicated that things did slow down a bit as people returned to pre-pandemic life.” But results from the APA’s 2023 consumer survey show some other key bright spots, too. “We are pleased to see that more people than ever are listening, with 53% of the U.S. population ages 18 and up having enjoyed an audiobook in the past year,” Cobb says. “This is a big leap from 45% last year.”

The audio category’s current golden era was ushered in by advances in digital technology that completely transformed how publishers contract, produce, and distribute recordings and how consumers discover, purchase, and listen to audiobooks. These changes have brought increased demand from listeners and more releases from established publishers, as well as from independent authors and producers. Cobb believes that, as a result, the audio industry is in a time of expanding creativity. “Publishers are trying alternatives to the single-voiced audiobook,” she says. She cites creating original products, using multiple narrators on more titles, and exploring new ways to adapt backlist books that were not yet released in audio as examples of those efforts.

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