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?

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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 to audiobooks 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.

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?

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

  1. Teresa Walker

    Interesting article ….thanks for posting. I’m 66 years old & my reading is approximately 40% audiobooks & 60% print. If the narrator’s voice doesn’t appeal to me, I’ll switch to the print version.

  2. Very interesting post, Eline. I love reading stats – does that make me a nerd? Lol! In the last couple of years, I’ve moved over to audiobooks to give my poor eyes a rest. I was getting lots of ocular migraines and my doctor suggested I reduce my screen time.
    I’m 49 and although I love browsing Waterstones and other book shops, actually reading a print book is something I rarely do.

  3. I started listening to books on my kindle a few years ago. Sometimes I listen to one book during the day and read a different one at night. I walk every day and listening to a book is wonderful. Sometimes I get so busy listening I forget I’m walking and 2 hours goes by! I have trouble searching books on kindle unlimited that are listen for free. I’m assuming I’m doing something wrong while searching. I seem to come up with the exact same books and can’t browse through them. For some reason some that I click on are not audio. Any suggestions? I tend to like to read everything an author has written and move on to another. I’ve had trouble searching authors in the listen for free section.

    1. Your walks sound honestly wonderful! 🙂

      As for Kindle Unlimited audiobooks, yes, it’s a pretty big pain to search through them. You can’t use the search bar and still get exclusively Listen for Free titles. But you can use my Kindle Unlimited “Listen for Free” link here** to browse through the catalog. Assuming you are in the US, these are all KU audiobooks. This is currently set to Romance, but you can choose different genres from the menu on the left (if you are using a desktop or laptop browser). There is also a small selection of themes and authors you can filter by, but it might be handier to pick a subgenre and then browse through those audiobooks. Hope this helps 🙂

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