New Report Forecasts Spanish-Language Audiobook Surge in Spain and Latin America

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A new study predicts Spanish-language audiobook sales and production will grow in 2019–and narration dialects may start to favor Latin American markets.

Image: iStockphoto: Dvuli Kaia

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Spanish-Language Audiobooks To Reach €7 Million

Released today (March 4), a new report by Javier Celaya, the founding CEO of Dosdoce in Spain, indicates “huge growth expectations” for the audiobook sector in Spanish-language markets during the coming year.

Research for the report was conducted in January and brings together response from Spanish and Latin American publishers. The study’s organizers say this data represents 95 percent of the outfits that produce Spanish-language audiobooks.

Javier Celaya

Celaya’s top-line points include:

  • In 2019, the market should see the number of available audiobook titles in Spanish move past 10,000, representing a 250-percent level of growth since 2018.
  • Spanish publishers, Celaya says, can also expect audiobook sales to reach €7 million in 2019 (US$9.9 million).
  • Subscription platforms are seen as the leading model for audiobook sales in the Spanish language in 2019, “while unit sales channels and streaming platforms will compete for second and third places” in sales, Celaya says. A fourth market for sales will continue, he says, to be found in libraries.

Celaya points out that the new reporting can not only help publishers with existing audiobook content to evaluate how best to exploit it, but that it can also prompt publishers who remain holdouts on audio to take the format seriously and develop their content for audio consumers.

Whose Dialect Will Be Heard?

Image: Dosdoce

Among the most intriguing findings of the research suggests that 60 percent of audiobooks produced in 2019 will be narrated in Latin American dialects or what’s called the “neutral accent,” as opposed to the Castilian dialect associated with Spain.

That should represent a shift of some 10 percent toward the Latin American markets, over last year’s production, which we’re told was accented fairly evenly between Spain’s and Latin American’s dialects.

“This increase clearly demonstrates the interest of the Spanish publishers,” writes the Dosdoce team, “to export these newly produced [audiobooks] to the different countries of Latin America, as well as to the Hispanic market in the United States.”

USA Moves to Third Place

Image: Dosdoce

The report also charts an interesting shift of sales dominance in Spanish-language audiobooks, away from the large Hispanic population of the States.

“Until the end of 2017,” the report’s authors write, “the main audiobook sales market in Spanish was the Hispanic market in the United States, followed by Spain.

“But the results of this research clearly indicate that this reign came to an end in 2018, when it [the dominant sales level] was reached by the sum of sales incurred in Spain and Mexico.”

Publishers responding to the survey said they see the future playing out with the sales markets for Spanish-language audiobooks parsed this way, with Spain on top as the dominant market:

  1. Spain
  2. Mexico
  3. USA
  4. Other Latin American markets
  5. Other world markets
Subscriptions Rule

Image: Dosdoce

As the report’s discussion indicates, the chief sales platforms for audiobooks in the Spanish language are subscription-modeled services Storytel, Audible, Kobo, and Scribd.

A secondary tier sees unit download sales from Google Play, iTunes, Downpour, and Libro.fm.

And third is the class of purveyors that includes Spotify, Deezer, Napster, Apple Music, and others.

“Unlike the English speaking markets,” the report has it, “the sale of audiobooks to libraries is still a very underdeveloped sales channel in the Spanish markets, placing it in four place.”

Nevertheless, however, the report sees “efforts undertaken by library e-lending platforms such as eBiblio and eLiburutegia in Spain as well as OverdriveOdiloFindaway or Hoopla in the United States rapidly increasing the sales of audiobooks via this channel.”

Pricing, Genres, and Categories

Image: Dosdoce

The new report cites an average price between €10 and €15 (US$11.34 and $17) for Spanish-language audiobooks, figures derived from the responses of 44 percent of the survey’s publisher-respondents.

Unit pricing under €10 constitutes some 39 percent of the audio content in the market. And the higher-end bracket of €15 to €25 (US$28.36) is expected to account for about 17 percent of the audiobook market.

Crime and suspense were top of the list of Spanish-language audiobook categories in 2018, the Dosdoce report tells us. The trend to nonfiction audiobook popularity seen in parts of the English-language is reflected in the second category of popularity in Spanish, given to “personal development, self-help, and well-being titles.”

Romance followed along with erotica. And categories, in descending order from there, are children’s and YA; history and biographies; nonfiction essays; and at the bottom of the list, science-fiction and fantasy.

Overall Notes

Celaya and his group report that at the end of 2018, there were some 8,000 Spanish-language audiobooks on the market. That in itself was a huge jump from 2017, when 6,000 were believed to be selling. A jump to 10,000 titles in 2019 will, then, not be as large a leap forward from 2018 as the increase from 2017 to 2018 was. Nevertheless, an addition of 2,000 titles to these markets will be considerable if it materializes as anticipated.

More details from Dosdoce on the survey can be found here. And for more analysis of reading in Spain in particular, see our report from January on the Spanish Publishers’ Guilds’ “Barometer of Reading Habits.”

Odilo Names Fist Young Readers Award

Sergio José Sánchez Pérez, winner of Odilo’s Young Readers Award, on his tour of the European Parliament installation at Brussels. Image: Odilo

As Odilo is mentioned in the Dosdoce report, it’s worth noting that the digital service made a presentation of its work last month at a seminar in Brussels organized in association with the European Parliament’s Digital Single Market deliberations.

As Publishing Perspectives readers know, Odilo was chosen in 2017 by the European Commission for use in European schools and universities.

The company describes itself as an “intelligent digital library” of ebooks, audiobooks, videos, magazines, courses, and interactive content, with more than 2 million titles from some 5,000 content providers in 42 languages. Its clients are in the educational sphere–libraries, schools, universities.

The company, on being asked to present to the seminar (on February 6) in Brussels, named a first recipient of its new Odilo Young Readers Award. The winner, 11-year-old Sergio José Sánchez Pérez of the Ceip el Rodeo, a school in Jerez de los Caballeros in Spain’s Badajoz province.


More from Publishing Perspectives on audiobooks is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He is also co-owner and editor with Jane Friedman of The Hot Sheet, the newsletter for trade and indie authors. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook, at London's The Bookseller. Anderson has also worked with CNN International, CNN.com, CNN USA, the Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and other media.

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