Will audiobooks dominate the book market?

Will audiobooks dominate the book market?

Books have long been considered an almost perfect e-commerce product. They are relatively easy to handle logistically and usually fit in the recipient’s mailbox. It’s no coincidence that the first product Jeff Bezos sold when he started Amazon was books.

In most studies about online consumer behavior, books are almost always in the top three of favorite categories to buy. But in recent years, something has happened in this classic industry – downloaded audiobooks are increasing in popularity and gaining more market share. Why is this happening? Isn’t the experience of holding and reading a physical book far more charming than listening to the words read by another person?

It seems obvious that more and more people don’t see it that way. If we take a look at the United States – one of the world’s largest markets for books – 57 percent of consumers between 18 and 49 years have listened to audiobooks during the last twelve months. In the age group 65 years and older, the same figure is 12 percent. Thus, this seems to be somewhat of a generational issue.

Audiobook enthusiasts assert that one of the main advantages is that audiobooks can be contained in a phone or tablet, and can easily be moved around. Another often-mentioned benefit is that you are free to do something else while listening to the book. For example, 74 percent of female audiobook users in the US stated that they multitask when listening to a book.

In 2010, the number of audiobook titles published in the United States was 6 200. In 2021, the corresponding number was 74 000. Music streaming platform Spotify has only recently entered the audiobook market. It remains to be seen if the giant, with more than 350 million monthly users, will become a dominant player also in this segment.

Olof Källgren, Market Information Manager, Direct Link