GET ON THE AUDIOBOOK EXPRESS
Audiobooks are HOT!
Great way to promote your books to new readers and increase your sales! the bloggers shout.
Is this true? Should you jump on this bandwagon and send your book motoring down the audiobook highway? Maybe you should. Let’s take a look at some real information here.
The APA, the Audio Publisher’s Association, released some pretty interesting details from 2016 earlier this year. Those numbers offer some insight into which readers are listening to audiobooks and whether an audio version of your book is worth your time and money.
WHY DO PEOPLE BUY AUDIOBOOKS?
1. They can do other things while they listen.
2. They can listen wherever they are.
3. They enjoy being read to
That number three reason surprised me, but over 50% of audiobook listeners reported that they did nothing but sit and listen to their audiobooks at home, that they did not multitask. Maybe the audiobook, like the movie, is becoming an ‘easier’ way to read a story. Interestingly, 57% of listeners listened to their audiobooks at home, and 32% listened in their cars.
THE AUDIOBOOK EXPLOSION
Once more, audiobook sales have increased by nearly 20% in the last year. Sales increased by 18.2% in 2016 with more than 50,000 titles produced and seem to be on track to continue this trend. The number of audiobooks sold or downloaded in 2016 increased 33.9% from the 2015 numbers. In other words, more people are downloading audiobooks and more audiobooks are out there for sale.
The increasing number of available audiobooks means that both story quality and production quality become more important as the competition increases. With an expanding number of books to choose from, readers want a compelling story, top quality sound and a strong narrator voice. Reading your book aloud into a tape recorder in your bedroom is not likely to be a good option! And make sure that book is really ready to publish before you publish it. Always!
WHO READS AUDIOBOOKS?
Most popular genres in 2016:
• Science Fiction/Fantasy
Hmmm. Why am I not surprised? If you remember from my recent blog post on ebook sales, these are the more popular ebook genres, too.
Average reader ages:
• 18 – 24 years: 14%
• 25 – 34 years: 20%
• 35 – 44 years: 18%
• 45 – 54 years: 19%
• 55 – 64 years: 15%
• 65 – older: 14%
So our 25 – 55 year old group are the biggest readers, but there is not a huge gap between that 14% of post-65 readers and the 20% of the 25 – 34 year old group. You see a similar distribution in ebook reader ages, interestingly enough. No surprise, really, since it’s a short step from downloading an ebook onto your iPad or Kindle to downloading an audiobook onto your phone.
Devices used to listen to audiobooks:
• 57% phone
• 52% computer
• 50% tablet
• 33% CD player
• 31% MP3 or iPod
Clearly, the phone, iPad or other tablet, or computer are the ‘big three’ of devices.
Where are listeners purchasing their audiobooks?
• 38% purchased from Amazon, iTunes, or Audible
• 20% downloaded from a library
• 20% listened on YouTube or downloaded for free
• 15% downloaded as ‘free’ by subscription – Kindle Unlimited or Scribd
• 7% acquired some other way
Unfortunately, as of right now, I don’t have a better breakdown between Amazon (which owns Audible.com) and iTunes, but listener buying habits may well depend on which device your listeners use. If they’re listening on their phones, they’re probably shopping at iTunes. If you are publishing exclusively with Amazon.com and not seeing strong sales for your audiobook, you may want to give iTunes a try as well and see if that improves sales for you.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Audiobooks are growing steadily in sales and yes, they are a way of putting your book in front of a different readership. Today’s publishing options allow authors to break into audiobooks without spending a lot of cash upfront on a quality narrator and a recording studio. You’re going to share the profit with Audible or whichever audio publisher publishes the book, but you won’t have to come up with the large expense of paying to produce a professional quality audiobook.
It certainly isn’t going to hurt you to get into audiobooks, even if you’re not publishing in one of the popular audiobook genres.
Just be wary of listening to any hard sell tactics by publishers who promise you huge sales numbers in return for a sizeable outlay of cash. As with those same promises by the scam prose publishers, their response when the book doesn’t sell is ‘I guess readers didn’t like the book’. Author beware!