I have been fond of audiobooks for many decades. In the 1980s, my
brother suffered from a degenerative neurological condition which
affected his eyesight but not his intellect. Had it not been for
recorded books, he would have had little to keep his mind alive. I
borrowed some of his books on tape, and (although my own eyesight was,
at that time, adequate) I enjoyed them immensely.
Since my brother's death, I have purchased, borrowed, and downloaded
dozens of audiobooks on cassette, on CD, and in digital MP-3 format.
I'm a devotee of the concept, and I would not hesitate to invest in
the production of audiobooks (if my budget were such that I could
consider investing in anything).
I've rounded up some info for you. Apparently the trend is toward a
younger and hipper audience. MP3-format CDs and downloads to personal
digital devices are boosting sales.
"This report reviews the developments that have taken place in the UK
books market since Mintel?s last report in June 2003. Mintel estimates
the total value of the book market in 2004 (including all
institutional sales) to be worth £3.6 billion, with further growth
expected during 2005, to reach a total value of £3.7 billion. Sales of
audiobooks in 2005 are estimated to be worth £72 million. The role of
the novel has evolved to become a key determinant leading to the
buoyant growth of consumer titles. While discounting has helped boost
frequency of purchase, volume growth has eclipsed value growth."
Market Research: Books - UK
"There are 7.3 million MP3 players in Britain, and the under-40s now
account for most sales of audiobooks... The future of the industry is
in downloads to MP3 players, iPods, etc. A recent survey of young
people in America found that many people were dispensing with
traditional media altogether in favour of downloadable audiobooks and
BBC Audiobooks has 1,000 titles available to download and believes
that its digital book business will double every 12 months for the
next few years. The BBC said: 'The market for audiobooks on CD is not
necessarily a growing market. But downloads are growing massively. We
have found new audiences for our titles through the downloadable
Although the audiobook charts are dominated by well-known voices
reading bestsellers, the relatively small cost of turning a book into
a digital audio file could encourage publishers to showcase their
Times Online: Click here for a really novel way to enjoy a book
"Sales of audio books for beach and poolside are soaring and the UK
publishing industry is about to be hit by the same revolution that has
overhauled the music world - the iPod-friendly download... The audio
market is now worth more than £70m annually and continues to expand
thanks to increased demand in the summer months.
New figures show sales of audio books from July to September last year
shot up by 40 per cent compared with the same quarter in 2003.
Waterstone's, one of the biggest high-street retailers of audio books,
reports sales of their spoken-word summer choices up 35 per cent so
far this year... Listeners have embraced more challenging reads and
classics that they had not managed in their usual reading schedules.
Joyce's Ulysses was an audio top seller last year, as were Tolstoy's
War and Peace, Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca and Charlotte Brontė's Jane
Joel Rickett, deputy editor of the publishing industry magazine The
Bookseller, said: 'Many people going on holiday want something for the
beach or the flight but they don't want to have to cart it around all
the time they are away. The holiday audio book is definitely a growth
Audio books were originally aimed at an older market whose eyesight
was less sharp, and more mature reads such as Agatha Christie books
remain popular. But there are moves to lower the age profile with
hipper titles, celebrity readers and efforts to bring out audio
versions close to the print publication date.
The biggest innovation for the technology friendly will be a move to
downloading to personal digital devices such as iPods and other MP3
players. This month sees the UK launch of online retailer Audible, a
major player in the US.
Publishers here are already looking to the download market. BBC Audio
Books, the market leader, which issues about 80 new titles each year,
puts out a number of releases on CD but with the information stored in
MP3 form, making it easier to switch to a portable player and allowing
more material to be stored on fewer discs.
The BBC is looking at the techno-bloke market by making versions of
Jack Kerouac's On the Road read by Matt Dillon, Nick Hornby's Fever
Pitch and Pompeii by Robert Harris available as MP3 CDs.
A spokeswoman said: "Downloading is going to make a huge difference to
the market. It could do for audio books what it did for the music
Cinema Blend Forum: Audio Books
"With the growth of broadband access having reached critical mass, we
anticipate the popularity of audiobook downloads to grow
exponentially,' said Jeffrey Dittus, CEO of MediaBay. 'Currently, in
an $800 million market that has increased 10 per cent per year since
1989, sales of audiobooks should exceed $1.1 billion by 2008'...
Recent research conducted by the Audio Publishers Association shows
that 70 per cent of audiobook users listen to them in their cars or on
UK Business News: MSN and MediaBay launch new Audiobooks service
My Google search strategy:
Google Web Search: "sales of audiobooks" OR "sales of audio books" uk
Here's a great list of "The Intellectual's Top Audiobooks on CD Disk":
Amazon: So you'd like to... Buy the Best Audiobooks in Circulation
My favorite audiobook of all time is "James Earl Jones Reads the
Bible." If any human voice can evoke the awe and majesty of the
Almighty, it is the powerful (yet gentle) voice of James Earl Jones.
When I get to Heaven, I fully expect that the Lord's voice will sound
very much like this.
My current passion is "The John Cheever Audio Collection," an
immensely entertaining audiobook of masterful short stories read by
wonderful narrators. This is an ideal audiobook for someone who wants
to listen now and then, for brief periods of time. If listening to
entire novels isn't your thing, give the Cheever collection a try.
"The Sorrows of Gin," read by Meryl Streep, is worth the price all on
Thank you for asking me to answer this. The subject is of great
interest to me, and it's always a pleasure to be able to promote
anything related to books.