In 2007 3,073 audiobook titles were available and this figure rose to over 12,000 in 2011. In 2013 over 20,000 audiobooks were available and in 2014 over 35,000 were released by major publishers and companies like Audible. This year it has rocketed, with Audible – the sole provider of audio books on iTunes – offering more than 80,000 titles.
The global audiobook industry is currently worth 2.6 billion dollars and part of the reason why we have seen a dramatic increase in profitability is due to digital. A recent New York Times report, noted: “In the first eight months of 2014, sales were up 28% over the same period last year, far outstripping the growth of e-books, which rose 6%.
Audio books have ballooned into a $1.2 billion industry, up from $480 million in retail sales in 1997. Unit sales of downloaded audio books grew by nearly 30% in 2011 compared with 2010, according to the Audio Publishers Association. Now they can be downloaded onto smartphones with the tap of a finger, often for the price of an e-book.
Many audiobook users are actually purchasing the digital edition after reading the print or e-book version. 36% of respondents stated that they read first and listen second. Meanwhile the majority of the respondents stated they want to see more bundling with the e-book and audiobook format.
Audio books are no longer viewed as just an ancillary product to print. Some audio publishers are now attempting to rebrand narrated books as a distinct medium from print, labeling them as “audio entertainment.” A handful of such publishers have started dabbling in original audio content, hoping to demonstrate that recorded narratives can hold their own as original works of art.