Audio Publishers Association Survey: 9-Percent Growth

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

The newly released 2024 APA consumer survey shows a rise in US audiobook revenues, 63 percent saying they use a subscription.

At Rock Hall, Maryland. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Grandbrothers

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

See also: APA: Audiobooks’ US Share Up 5 Percent, 2017 to 2022

General Fiction Reported as Top Audio Content
In the publicly released elements of the Audio Publishers Association‘s proprietary annual consumer survey, the organization today (June 3) has reported that audiobook revenue in the United States grew 9 percent in 2023 to US$2 billion.

While this represents a dollar valuation above the $1.8 billion figure of last year’s report issued on June 1, 2023, the growth rate appears to have slowed a bit from the previous survey’s 10 percent.

Thus today’s report cannot announce a 12th year of “double-digit growth,” something previously reported for the format by the association over a remarkable 11-year run. Needless to say, such a track record for audiobooks in the United States is still fully impressive, and it’s impossible to know whether this interpretation of 2023’s performance is indicative of a further slowdown ahead in growth or merely a fluctuation in one of a dozen years.

Edison Research, as in the past, conducted the Audio Publishers Association’s 2024 Consumer Survey.

Using 1,061 interviews completed in February with Americans aged 18 and older, the company interprets its results to suggest that slightly more than half (52 percent) of the US population has tried listening to an audiobook. “The data was weighted to the audiobook market,” the organization reports, “as measured by The Infinite Dial, a nationally representative survey of the American media landscape conducted by Edison Research.”

Twenty-seven member-companies of the association participated in the gathering of data, which was handled by Toluna Harris Interactive, looking for sales data and publisher sales by formats and genre. We’re told that the 27 companies participating include Audible; Blackstone; Brilliance Audio; Hachette Audio; HarperCollins; Macmillan; Penguin Random House; Podium Publishing; RB Media; and Simon & Schuster.

Points Released From the 2024 APA Consumer Survey
  • Thirty-eight percent of American adults who were surveyed for this report said that they’d listened to an audiobook in the last year, up from the 35 percent reported in the previous year’s report.
  • Of the most avid audiobook listeners surveyed—those who have listened to an audiobook in the last year—the average number of audiobooks they said they’d consumed was 6.8 titles in the year, up from 6.3 titles in the previous year’s report. Of the broader group of those who said they’d ever listened to an audiobook, the average was 4.8 audiobooks listened to in the last year, up from the 4.0 averaged in the previous report.
  • Children’s audiobook listening was at 53 percent, according to of audiobook listeners with children, who said that kids also listen to audiobooks.
  • According to 77 percent of these parents, a key benefit of audiobooks is giving their children a break from screens.
  • Reported use of subscriptions to audiobook services continued to grow, with 63 percent of those who said they listened in the last year currently saying they were subscribing to at least one service. This percentage is up from the 62 percent reported in the previous year’s report.
  • Respondents identifying as current audiobook consumers also said they rely on digital library apps, with 46 percent of them saying they’ve borrowed a digital audiobook from a library in the last year.
  • Piracy is a concern for the industry, 47 precent of those who listened to an audiobook in the last year saying they got an audiobook free of charge through YouTube or another file sharing site.
  • Fiction, at 64 percent of sales revenue, is the top reported category for a third consecutive year.
  • Top reported genres are:
    • General fiction (21 percent)
    • Science fiction and fantasy (14 percent)
    • Romance (11 percent)
  • The fastest-growing genres reported by this survey are:
    • History, biography and memoir (22-percent growth)
    • Health and fitness (20-percenrt growth)
    • Religious, faith-based (17-percent growth)
    • Romance (14-percent growth)
A Programming Note

The Audio Publishers Association, led by executive director Michele Cobb, will stage an “International Summit of Audio Publishers” in New York City on September 10 with early-bird rates for attendees until July 31. (The program is open to both members and non-members of the association.)

Featured topics include assessments of international marketplaces and language categories; emerging technologies, market strategies, and consumer trends; and opportunities for networking.

We’ll have more information head on this program “designed to foster connections among key stakeholders” at international scale. You can find more about this one-day event here.

More from Publishing Perspectives on audiobooks is here, more on the Audio Publishers Association is here, more on industry statistics is here, more on the United States’ market is here, and more on digital publishing in general is 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 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.