Why K-12 Publishers Should Pay Attention to the Growth of Audiobooks

k-12 audiobooks

Audio is everywhere these days. People are consuming more spoken word than ever. The stats back this claim up. Savvy K-12 publishers are wise to be aware of the following trends.

People are listening.

Audio Publishers Association (APA) reports audiobook listening is on the rise. Data from 2019 Edison Research shows 50% of Americans age 12-plus have listened to an audiobook in the past year. This stat is up from 44% last year. Audiobook listeners tend to skew younger; 55% percent of listeners are under age 45. Also, they like to listen as they drive. 

Technology makes listening easy.

According to the APA survey, 74% of audiobook listening took place in cars. That is a five percent gain from last year. In 2019, 68% of audiobook consumers listened at home. Lock downs and stay-at-home orders are pushing that number up.  Besides that, families are listening on many types of devices. Tablets, smart phones, computers, and smart speakers stream audio content to different age groups.

Smart speakers are driving growth.

Per the APA survey, 60% of respondents own a smart speaker. This is an 18% jump from last year. Also, 46% of owners report listening to an audiobook on their smart speaker. In 2019, only 31% of owners said they listened to an audiobook on their smart speaker. This is a 15% rise in smart speaker use for this purpose. Most importantly, smart speakers let people do other things as they listen.

People are carving time to listen.

In June 2020, survey respondents listened to an average of 8.1 audiobooks. This is up from an average of 6.8 last year.  More than 50% of audiobook listeners claim to be making “new” time to listen.  Listeners do housework. They exercise. They play a book before bed to relax. Besides that, a clear market for shorter audiobooks exists. As 43% of audiobook buyers say they would buy an audiobook one to three hours long. The need for shorter audiobooks is an opening for publishers to share quality short stories that fill the gap

The market is poised to grow.

A June 2020 APA sales survey reports 2019 audiobook sales totaled 1.2 billion dollars. Responding publishers report a 16% increase from last year. The United States audiobook market continues to speed up.  Most importantly, this is the market’s eighth year of double digit revenue growth.

In sum, the audiobook market is in a boom.  K-12 publishers can take part in the growth. Publishers who link up with tried and true sources will grow well in these times.  Being aware of the power of stories as both a tool to teach and to entertain results in sales.

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