Bookworms and thrill-seeking homebodies who comb library shelves for their next big adventure know there’s nothing quite like curling up with a good book at the end of a busy day. Mystery, intrigue, romance, espionage, sci-fi, history … you can experience it all by flipping through the pages of a mainstream paperback.
… Or by pumping up the volume.
Christian Retailing reported yesterday that audiobook sales jumped 13.4 percent in 2014 compared to 2013 sales, totaling $1.47 billion in sales. Unit sales were also up 19.5 percent—a number five times greater than that of the overall book trade industry.
Why the increase? Well, for starters, 1,032 more titles were published in audio format in 2014. Second, with more and more consumers opting for e-books and other digital downloads, the increased awareness of the audiobook format could be playing a role as well.
The “jump” in popularity didn’t happen just last year, either. According to publishingtrends.com, the American Association of Publishers (AAP) released a report in October 2014 that stated audiobooks were the fastest growing format—far surpassing e-book downloads. (The report stated that audiobooks saw a 26.2 percent growth in 2013; e-books saw a 7.5 percent growth in the same year.)
Christianaudio.com is the largest resource for downloadable Christian audio content, and its mission is to refresh the soul, nourish Christian hearts and promote spiritual growth. From the home page alone, viewers can browse selections from big-name authors like Kyle Idleman, Liz Curtis Higgs and Sara Young. As one can see, more and more authors seem to be publishing in audio format as well as traditional paperback—this is particularly true for fiction authors. According to APA’s report 77.4 percent of audio books were fiction.
So what’s the benefit of a purchasing an audiobook? Well first, we are commanded to think about
“ … whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable … ” (Philippians 4:8). Audiobooks, whether listened to while sweating it out at the gym, buzzing around town taking care of errands or simply relaxing at the end of a hectic workday, help center our thoughts and focus on spiritual truths. This is even true of Christian fiction, which uses story to emulate spiritual truths. And since the book is in audio format it allows for greater listening flexibility. (Not many of us can hold a paperback in front of our faces while running on a treadmill, for instance.)
Keep in mind that while the audiobook format is increasing in popularity, only 25,787 titles were published in 2014 of the estimated 600,000 to 1,000,000 titles published traditionally each year. So while it still represents a small fraction of the market, it’s something worth considering.
Do you listen to audiobooks? How does the experience differ from reading a paperback? Do you plan to listen to more titles in the coming year?