Immersive Media & Books 2020 is a survey of more than 4,000 Americans who have studied a book in the last year. This includes not only people who have read a book in the last year, but also those who have given a book or used it as a reference work. The survey was funded in part by the American Library Association and OverDrive, and it produced a lot of very interesting data. In late June, Audiobooks Month lead researchers hosted a webinar hosted by the Audio Publishers Association to share their results on listening habits, all of which you can watch on YouTube.
Audio Publishers Association Executive Director Michele Cobb said that “2020 was a stellar year for audiobooks with over 71,000 titles published and the ninth year of double-digit sales growth.” While 2020 may have stalled many commutes, it seems not to slow down the growth of audiobook listening. In fact, 43.6% of the survey participants are partly concerned with audio books.
While audiobooks were first produced by the American Foundation of the Blind and continue to be a great resource for book accessibility, they have found their way into many different contexts as well. They’re great for multitasking whether you’re listening on the way to work, walking the dogs, washing dishes, grocery shopping, or more. (You can also do other things than household chores while listening!) In fact, the survey showed that 70% of audiobook users multitask while listening. What is even more surprising to me is that 61% of e-book readers do this too!
Immersive Media also found that people who listen to audiobooks are the most avid book enthusiasts: 67.9% of them engage with four or more books in a month, compared to 53% of general survey respondents. They also have a higher percentage of library card memberships: 81.4% compared to 75.8% of general survey respondents. But they don’t just listen for free: 49.6% of audiobook listeners buy books in multiple formats. When you listen to audiobooks you can probably understand this: sometimes you want to show off that shiny hardcover even though you’ve read it through your ears. Or you might want to read along with an e-book while listening. And of course, many audiobook listeners like to read in multiple formats.
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Audiobook listeners are clearly serious book people. They are also younger (41.5% of Millennials and 43% of Generation X study audio books) and are more likely to be colored (19.6% of listeners are black and 16% are Latinx). They are more concerned with YA of all genres than the general survey population, which makes sense since they are younger than average.
If you want to dive into more data, check out the full report, which has lots of interesting numbers to compare.
If you want to listen to more audiobooks, try these websites where you can find thousands of free audiobooks! You can also read our other audio book articles or follow our audio book newsletter.