Audiobooks: What Are the Opportunities for Publishers?

With the topic popping up on every publishing agenda, we wanted to draw your attention to an excellent BookNet Canada survey published last year detailing Canadians’ audiobook purchasing and consumption patterns which provides ideas for the development of this market.

Who’s Buying Audiobooks?

For the new generation of digital natives, it’s not surprising that the audiobook has become a medium of choice. According to data obtained by BookNet Canada in a survey of nearly 400 English-speaking Canadians, aged 18 years or older, the average audiobook user tends to be between the ages of 25 and 34, female, and well educated. When it comes to acquiring audiobooks, men and women have similar patterns, making purchases online or in stores.

Although audiobooks were found to be less popular than their digital competitor – the ebook – it seems likely that this is set to change in the next few years.

As with printed books, the main challenge with audiobooks is accessibility. 25% of people surveyed by BookNet said it’s easy to find what they’re looking for when it comes to browsing for audiobooks, while 30% said they find it difficult. A larger proportion of respondents said they found content through a recommendation from a friend (32%) or through social media (20%), which is different than in with print.

According to the survey, consumers between the ages of 25 and 34 are most likely to buy audiobooks. However, the majority of users tend to obtain them from free sources and 56% pay less than $20 per title.

Opportunities for Publishers

Here’s where it gets interesting for publishers. The majority of respondents said they are open to the possibility of purchasing – and paying more for – a print book that’s bundled with either an audio or electronic edition.

Despite arguments against the benefits of audiobooks (poor concentration and retention of information, low level of commitment), 36% of respondents either “always” or “often” listen to audiobooks they have previously read. That’s why offering print books bundled with audiobooks is a good idea.

In terms of consumers’ preferred genres, fiction ranked much higher than non-fiction with mystery/detective topping the list at 48%. When we look at non-fiction, biographies ranked the most popular at 24%. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to get a clear picture for young adult and juvenile titles because only adults were surveyed for the study.

Digital Content Rules the Roost

In an ever-changing market, the majority of respondents said they expect their use of audiobooks to either increase or stay the same in the future. Respondents’ preferred technology for accessing audiobook content are tablets (28%) followed closely by computers (22%). A large majority of people prefer to access content via a digital download. Libraries also reported a 50% increase in the circulation of digital materials year-on-year. These figures reflect an increase in demand for audiobooks as well as an increase in available content. According to OverDrive, audiobook downloads increased by 38% in 2014 – a larger percentage than for ebook downloads (32%).

For publishers in the digital market, the audiobook represents a unique business opportunity. The majority of consumers said they use audiobooks in addition to the printed versions – and they’re willing to pay more for print books that are bundled with digital formats. The growing demand for audiobook content by consumers as well as libraries is good news for publishers and they should be doing everything they can to ensure their audiobooks are accessible.

 

With the topic popping up on every publishing agenda, we wanted to draw your attention to an excellent BookNet Canada survey published last year detailing Canadians’ audiobook purchasing and consumption patterns which provides ideas for the development of this market.

Who’s Buying Audiobooks?

For the new generation of digital natives, it’s not surprising that the audiobook has become a medium of choice. According to data obtained by BookNet Canada in a survey of nearly 400 English-speaking Canadians, aged 18 years or older, the average audiobook user tends to be between the ages of 25 and 34, female, and well educated. When it comes to acquiring audiobooks, men and women have similar patterns, making purchases online or in stores.

Although audiobooks were found to be less popular than their digital competitor – the ebook – it seems likely that this is set to change in the next few years.

As with printed books, the main challenge with audiobooks is accessibility. 25% of people surveyed by BookNet said it’s easy to find what they’re looking for when it comes to browsing for audiobooks, while 30% said they find it difficult. A larger proportion of respondents said they found content through a recommendation from a friend (32%) or through social media (20%), which is different than in with print.

According to the survey, consumers between the ages of 25 and 34 are most likely to buy audiobooks. However, the majority of users tend to obtain them from free sources and 56% pay less than $20 per title.

Opportunities for Publishers

Here’s where it gets interesting for publishers. The majority of respondents said they are open to the possibility of purchasing – and paying more for – a print book that’s bundled with either an audio or electronic edition.

Despite arguments against the benefits of audiobooks (poor concentration and retention of information, low level of commitment), 36% of respondents either “always” or “often” listen to audiobooks they have previously read. That’s why offering print books bundled with audiobooks is a good idea.

In terms of consumers’ preferred genres, fiction ranked much higher than non-fiction with mystery/detective topping the list at 48%. When we look at non-fiction, biographies ranked the most popular at 24%. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to get a clear picture for young adult and juvenile titles because only adults were surveyed for the study.

Digital Content Rules the Roost

In an ever-changing market, the majority of respondents said they expect their use of audiobooks to either increase or stay the same in the future. Respondents’ preferred technology for accessing audiobook content are tablets (28%) followed closely by computers (22%). A large majority of people prefer to access content via a digital download. Libraries also reported a 50% increase in the circulation of digital materials year-on-year. These figures reflect an increase in demand for audiobooks as well as an increase in available content. According to OverDrive, audiobook downloads increased by 38% in 2014 – a larger percentage than for ebook downloads (32%).

05/24/2016 | Digital