Audiobooks in Spanish: Dosdoce Hands Publishers a ‘Map’

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

Dosdoce’s Javier Celaya challenges the Spanish-language publishing industry to expand its share of a fast-widening audio ‘ecosystem.’

If Dosdoce’s Javier Celaya could get into the headphones of Spanish-language publishers, he’d be whispering that they hold only 7 percent of the ‘audio ecosystem’s’ activity and need to widen their output to more formats. These blue headphones were spotted in a Madrid intersection on January 4. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Javier Paredes Perez

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

A Challenge to Spanish-Language Book Publishers
In the latest of his reports capturing his analysis of the Spanish-language audio industry’s potential, Dosdoce founder Javier Celaya in Bilbao builds on his January summary, today (March 23) releasing a new look at the audio industry and audiobooks. He calls it his first Map of the Spanish Audio Industry Ecosystem.

As before, Celaya is relying for many predictions on the PcC Spain report (PricewaterhouseCoopers International), Entertainment and Media Outlook 2022-2026 España. This is where he gets some of his top-line expectations, including one that sees the Spanish audio industry by 2026 reaching 26.6 million listeners, generating €590 million (US$642 million) “through advertising, branded content, subscription revenues,” and more.

But while reminding us in January that within “a few years,” this industry has “created more than 100,000 podcasts and nearly 25,000 audiobooks in Spanish,” today’s Celayan analysis looks at “the nearly 400 entities that represent this new industry.”

Javier Celaya

As Celaya points out, there are three main economic activities encompassed in what he refers to as the Spanish-language markets’ audio industry ecosystem—which geographically includes Spain, Latin America, and the United States’ Hispanic market:

  • Production studios, which he sees as making up 36 percent of the ecosystem
  • Media houses producing audio content, at 18 percent
  • Audio entertainment streaming platforms at 14 percent

Our publishers-led readership knows that our focus here at Publishing Perspectives—like their own focus—is most frequently and logically on audiobooks. But Celaya wants you to get this figure squarely in mind: “Spanish and Latin American publishing houses represent less than 7 percent of the total group of entities in the español audio industry.” The italics are ours, the emphasis is his.

Take that as a challenge, he’s saying, to grab a bigger share while it’s possible.

“After more than two months of intense research,” he tells Publishing Perspectives, “we believe this effort will help the publishing sector better understand and contextualize the rapid growth and size of the industry, as well as the nature and profile of all the different players (studios, platforms, media groups).

“If publishing houses don’t accelerate and expand their audio content production plans beyond audiobooks to include podcasts, audio dramas, book-casts,” and so on, “other players—especially streaming platforms—will lead the audio industry.”

One of the main conclusions of this study, he reports today, is this indication that the growing international trend in audio is driven by the different players in the industry betting on the production and distribution of “a wide diversity of audio formats” instead of hunkering down on just one. And while Nielsen BookData tracked a somewhat surprising step-back for audio in the United Kingdom’s market in 2022, Celaya’s indicators suggest that the volume is only rising for audio in Spanish-language markets.

393 Entities ‘Firmly Committed’ to Audio

We’ll give you here an unusually large info-graphic for our production, in which Celaya represents the “Audio Industry Map” of players he’s referencing in his report. Then we’ll provide you with some more of the commentary he’s offering today.

Image: Javier Celaya, Dosdoce.com

‘Ten Categories of Audio-Engaged Companies Overall’

As  you can see, when Celaya went looking for companies engaged in the Spanish-language audio “ecosystem,” he found a lot of them. His way of describing their involvement in the business is to say that in the last five years, the 393 of them have “firmly committed to the development of the new audio industry in the Spanish-language markets.”

While we listed above the three main industry types he has identified, the whole “map,” he says, features 10 such categories: production studios; streaming platforms; media producing audio content; specialized “artificial intelligence” companies; audio content distribution channels; training entities; publishers; libraries; festivals and events focused on audio; and “specialized media in the sector.”

When counted by imprints, Dosdoce’s research suggests that fewer than 25 of them, Celaya says, are producing and distributing Spanish-language audio.

In terms of where the whole universe of audio-engaged companies are based, Dosdoce sees:

  • 50 percent in Spain
  • 29 percent in Latin American markets
  • 14 percent based in the United States
  • 7 percent in Europe outside of Spain

In Latin America, production is leading, with 50 percent of the audio-engaged companies identified there being production studios. Argentina, Mexico, Colombia are in the lead.

In the States’ Hispanic Market

“Unlike in Spain and the Latin American markets,” Celaya’s report tells us, “there is already strong competition to get the attention of Spanish audio listeners in the United States. Nearly 40 percent of the entities identified in the States are apps and streaming platforms that provide spoken-word content in Spanish (podcasts, audiobooks, audio dramas).

“The future growth of the Spanish-language audio industry depends on enlarging the American Hispanic listener base, a market of more than 60 million people. The United States is the country with the second-largest number of Spanish speakers in the world, after Mexico, the latter of which has more than 120 million people.”

AI in Audio

In Celaya’s purview, just 4 percent of entities he is tracking in audio have specialized in technologies being developed in the “artificial intelligence” or AI space. While some may be skeptical of his idea that creative elements may be AI-produced, Celaya says, “AI in the world of audio will have more and more weight in the sector every year, invading multiple processes of creation, distribution, and marketing, and sooner than we expect.

“Today, AI is already present in processes such as script correction and translation, but artificial intelligence is reaching creative areas that until now we thought were reserved as intrinsic characteristics of humans: the creation of original content, in other words, podcasts and audiobooks written and narrated by robots.”

The Multiplicity of Formats

Returning to his challenge to publishers about going beyond the audiobook format in order to compete, Celaya may have a happier idea than some of how much time the entertainment consumer is going to find for listening, as the attention economy continues to squeeze every possible minute out of that customer’s day and night.

“If publishing houses don’t accelerate and expand their audio content production plans beyond audiobooks to include podcasts, audio dramas, book-casts,” and so on, “other players – especially streaming platforms – will lead the audio industry.”Javier Celaya, Dosdoce

Looking at platforms in the United States, Celaya says he sees 45 percent of them focusing their audio catalogues on podcasts. “Another 38 percent, he says, specialize in audiobooks. And an emerging 17 percent offer both audiobooks and podcasts, broadening the spectrum of listeners.”

Many publishers continue to wrestle, of course, with questions of at what point a podcast—perhaps offered free of charge as part of a marketing framework—might cannibalize the time a listening consumer might have spent with a paid-for audiobook, suggesting that the “both audiobooks and podcasts” approach carries potentially unexpected impact on revenue.

Nevertheless, Celaya is all in with that multiplicity he sees as critical to the Spanish-language publishing industry’s path forward on that “map of the audio industry ecosystem.”

By comparison to what he sees in the United States’ predominantly English-language approach, he says, “In Spain and Latin America, the data indicate that there is still a strong imbalance.

  • “In Spain, 68 percent of the [audio-industry] organizations are only committed to podcasts, while 19 percent are only committed to audiobooks. Only 13 percent of the entities analyzed are indifferently committed to both formats.
  • “Whereas in Latin America, the imbalance is even greater given that, with 81 percent of the organizations using only podcasts, while 10 percent are using only audiobooks. Only 9 percent of the organizations surveyed are indifferently committed to both formats.”

Based in that transatlantic purview, Celaya’s consultancy wants to see the format-agnostic embrace widened as a means of simply expanding the Spanish-language audio industry overall, “in order to create an international category,” he says, “simply called ‘audio content.'”

In Barcelona. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Yulyao

 


More from Publishing Perspectives on audiobooks is here, more on digital publishing is here, more on Spanish-language news is here, more on Spain’s market is here, more on Mexico’s market is here, more on Dosdoce’s work is here, and more on industry statistics is here. Javier Celaya was recently seen at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair and is regularly found speaking in similar international book-publishing industry trade shows and book fairs. You can see some of Celaya’s presentation of the ‘Map of the Audio Industry Ecosystem’ in Spanish here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.