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Who Listens to Audiobooks? (Trends and Statistics)

As a person who loves both audiobooks and statistics, I wondered, hey, what do we actually know about this: Who listens to audiobooks, how many books does the average audiobook listener go through in a year, and how many new audiobooks are published? So, I looked at all the audiobook statistics I could find to give you a summary here.

Audiobooks are a quickly growing market. And while many more people read ebooks than listen to audiobooks, the latter might actually become the second-highest book-selling format. But we will get to that in a bit…

Who is the average audiobook listener?

Who listens to Audiobooks?

What do we know about the average audiobook listener?

Audiobooks are most popular with women between 30 and 49 years old. This group has the most audiobook listeners. [Source] Women only recently overtook men though. The average listener used to be businessmen who listened to audiobooks in their cars. Now it’s… well… people like me. And you, I assume! This info really matches up with the readers and subscribers of Lovely Audiobooks.

Audiobooks aren’t particularly popular with people 65 years and older. Ebooks are a little more popular in this age bracket. Both formats are helpful for people with failing eyesight so we might see some growth here in the future. [Source]

While we should always keep in mind the importance of audiobooks for disabled people, it seems they are most gaining in popularity among very active people who listen during work, commute, sports, or chores. On average, people listen to 8.1 audiobooks per year. [Source] Quite frankly, that does not match with Lovely Audiobooks readers, haha! We are listening to A. WHOLE. LOT. MORE. Aren’t we?!

Given the number of audiobooks people listen to and their high price compared to ebooks and even print books, I suppose it isn’t that much of a surprise that the average audiobook listener comes from a higher-income household. In a 2019 survey, 30% of participants with a 75k yearly income said they had listened to at least one audiobook in the previous year. [Source] Quite frankly, that made me a bit sad to see. Everyone needs books! I hope my blog posts about free audiobooks and unlimited audiobook subscriptions can make just a tiny bit of a difference here in helping to make audiobooks affordable for everyone who enjoys them.

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Love and War - Audible audiobook by Shirra Lynn

The Audiobook Industry

In a 2019 survey, 65% of readers said they picked up a print book in the previous year, while 20% had listened to at least one audiobook. For now, print books remain vastly more popular than audiobooks. [Source] But audiobooks are a huge growth market that, according to Chris Lynch, co-chair of the APA’s Research Committee and President & Publisher of Simon & Schuster Audio, has seen double-digit revenue growth for 8 years in a row. [Source]

In 2020, audiobooks in the US were a 1.3 billion dollar industry! [Source] Ebooks, however, had a revenue of 1.1 billion US dollars. While more people read ebooks than audiobooks and ebooks sell more units, the higher price of audiobooks makes them the bigger industry. [Source]

For the time being, print books have nothing to fear and there is no reason to believe that they are a dying format. Speaking for myself, I love having a bookshelf, even though I consume my books in audiobook format. And when I love an audiobook, I will buy the print version as well, just to see it on my shelf and to do my little part in supporting the author.

The number of audiobooks released per year has increased immensely in the last 10 years. In 2011, 7237 audiobooks were published. That jumped up to 16309 in the following year, 2012. In 2016, 2017, and 2018, the numbers were stable at over 42000 before growing again in 2019. And in 2020, 71000 new audiobook titles were released. [Source]

And what about you? Would you consider yourself the average audiobook listener? Do the statistics say you are? And how many audiobooks do you listen to per year?

All about Audiobooks, Discussion

10 thoughts on “Who Listens to Audiobooks? (Trends and Statistics)”

  1. I’ve always been a heavy reader. But this last year and a half I’ve listened to a TON of audiobooks. I’m 44 and I usually listen during chores, so I suppose I fit the demographic. But also, with quarantine and all the stress, I found that I had a lot of trouble focusing and audiobooks helped so much.

    1. With the pandemic, I think it changed things up for a lot of people in both directions. For some audio fans, their commutes were gone and they listened a lot less. For others, it created more audiobook time.

  2. I’ve been a heavy audiobook listener for 2 decades. When I was in my mid 40’s, I had some rapid vision changes, which made reading regular books challenging. (This was the pre e-book era). I listened on my commute to work and in bed at night. I drove my husband nuts when I had to change cassettes or CD’s in the middle of the night! I am now 65 and listen more than ever. So, I guess I break the “65 and over” mold. Between audiobooks and ebooks, I have already read about 120 books this year. I’m a retired librarian, which I supposed puts me in a different category from the average reader. Thank you for your newsletter!

    1. Thank you so much for your comment! It’s wonderful to hear your perspective 🙂
      I’m glad that it’s so convenient these days to get audiobooks. If we would still have to acquire CDs or tapes, I doubt we could listen as much as we do!

  3. For me, the pandemic meant I could no longer go to kickboxing, so I switched up my workout routine to a row machine. A friend urged me to try audiobooks and I’m a writer, so really, I needed to. Now audiobooks are a staple for my workouts, whether it’s row machine, in the gym, or walking my dog. If it’s really good, I’ll listen in the car when I’m alone (I like racy, steamy stuff, so it’s a headphones thing for me). Interesting statistics you’ve shared! I’d say I listen to about 2 audiobooks a month. Mostly romance, but sometimes I’ll order nonfiction audiobooks when I’m researching a topic and I know I won’t “get into” the nonfiction book.

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