Our culture seems to have arrived at a defining moment in 2014 when audio as a form of entertainment – and we're not just talking about music – became part and parcel of what people talked and raved about. Audiobooks and podcasts reigned supreme alongside shows and movies, so much so that a lot of critics agree: we are currently experiencing the renaissance of audio. Other people who have benefited from this format are also those who can listen to books in another language apart from their own.
According to the Association of American Publishers, digital audiobooks are making headway in the market. Sales are up to 28%, compared to e-books, which only gained 6%. Print sales, meanwhile, dropped by almost 2%. Per NPR: "Audiobooks as we know them have been around for about 25 years. But the form really took off when MP3 players like the iPod came out."
This 2015, a further increase in the demand of audiobooks is expected from major publishers. Industry experts estimate the worth of the audiobook industry to be around $2.6 billion. This is a feat, considering that audiobooks are much more expensive to make than e-books and printed books. For example, World War Z by Max Brooks, retails at $11.35 per paperback on Amazon. The e-book version costs $10.54, while the audiobook, which is read by several popular figures such as Martin Scorsese, costs $17.95. And yet people purchase and get pleasure from listening to several hours' worth of recording.
Readers' appetite, which over the last few years have been focused on e-books, have turned towards audio, especially now that more smart phones and tablets available on the market make it easier for consumers to listen to recordings via the use of native apps. Also, books are now being read by voice actors instead of electronic or synthetic voices, which opens up a deeper connection by the listener to the content. Audible Limited, a subsidiary by Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN), has reportedly produced 18,000 titles in the past twelve months alone. Another study revealed that audiobooks are the preferred media for people with disabilities, because it provides them with access to content that they otherwise wouldn't be able to enjoy.
Today, there are still only a few companies out there who are directly involved in the making of audiobooks. Audible is considered to be the market leader both in distribution and production. With its recent partnership with the Audioboom Group PLC (AIM:BOOM), it is predicted that awareness and adoption of this medium will further the industry to new heights.
Audioboom, a software-as-a-service (SaaS) company based in London, is one of the most popular websites for everything audio – be it books, podcasts, radio shows, news broadcasts, among others. It is said to be the "YouTube for audio," where users can create and upload their own recordings to the site. The app also allows listeners to access their audio on the go.
Together, the two companies are fully equipped to stir interest and promote a variety of audiobooks to a niche audience. But do they have what it takes to deliver audiobooks to the mainstream? That remains to be seen (or heard).