Audiobook downloads rose 22% to a record £31m sales last year, according to new figures released by the Publishers Association to mark the start of Love Audio Week (11th - 17th June).
The statistics, which relate to invoiced figures rather than actual sales, show year-on-year growth of audiobooks has been higher in previous years according to the PA’s stats (up 29.2% in 2015 and up 27.9% in 2016) but that the audiobook market remains the fastest growing area in digital publishing with publishers reporting sales more than doubling (+148%) since 2013. However the available figures extensively underestimate the size of the market, with Audible's last accounts for 2016 reporting turnover of more than £67m.
The PA's statistics - which are based on historically revised figures, having conceded it may have underestimated 2016's market figures by as much as £9m - were released today (11th June) ahead of the Publishers Association’s annual publishing yearbook and build on data from the Nielsen UK Books & Consumers survey, published in April. Nielsen then reported that audiobook purchases rose in volume by 12% and in value by 15% compared to 2016, while audiobooks now account for 5% of consumer book spending in the UK and 7% of fiction sales by value. In total Nielsen revealed 5.7 million people listened to an audiobook last year, with men aged 25 - 44 years old a key demographic.
“It is great to see strong growth in audiobook sales and our latest figures show the sector is going from strength to strength," said Stephen Lotinga, chief executive of the Publishers Association. “Publishers are investing and innovating in audio so that audiences can experience books in new ways and that is why it continues to be the fastest growing digital format. Audiobooks are vital in allowing a wider audience of readers to discover and experience storytelling on their own terms. It is this type of digital innovation that is at the heart of supporting nationwide literacy.”
Sarah Shrubb, chair of the PA’s Audio Publishers Group and audio publisher at Little, Brown, added: “Audio publishers are thrilled to see that their hard work and investment is continuing to produce record-breaking market statistics. It’s a very exciting time for the industry, and every audio publisher has contributed to these fantastic results.”
Sarah Millican, Stephen Fry, Lynda LaPlante, Eddie Izzard, Lorelei King, Anthony Horowitz and Fearne Cotton are some of the high profile authors and narrators who will be participating in the second Love Audio campaign this week (11th - 17th June). With the aim of engaging both consumers and the industry, featured content on the campaign website includes behind-the-scenes videos of audiobook production, clips of authors and narrators and promotions, as well as activity across social media.
HarperCollins is meanwhile celebrating LoveAudio internally through the launch of a new Audio Hub offering staff behind-the-scenes tasters of what HarperCollins audiobook productions entail. It goes live today (11th June), with fresh content to be added throughout Love Audio Week. It also announced it will be sharing recordings of source interviews for Slay in Your Lane by Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené in the audiobook to "quite literally, make these trailblazing women's voices heard".