The printed book market has struggled in recent years as a result of consumers increasingly turning to technology to provide entertainment. One medium that bridges the gap between the traditional book market and new forms of technology is the audiobook. Sales revenues have soared in this area in recent years, almost doubling between 2009 and 2015. This growing demand for audiobooks can be seen in the fact that the number of audiobook titles published in the United States has grown from approximately 4,600 to over 35,500 in the same time frame.
One of the major selling points of audiobooks is the capacity for on-the-go listening, allowing consumers to listen to their favorite books in the car, on the commute to work, or while on a run. However, some 28 percent of consumers listen to audiobooks most often on a desktop or laptop, suggesting that there is also a big demand for audiobooks in the home. This highlights the widespread appeal of the medium, as it can not only be used by professionals who have little time for conventional reading, but also by those who simply want to relax at home, or parents who want to use audiobooks to help their children improve their reading skills.
Although audiobooks can be accessed from the comfort of one’s own home, local libraries and bookstores still play a key role in the decision process. According to a survey, 57 percent of respondents browse through a library or a library’s website to find information about new audiobooks and 56 percent of consumers consult their local bookstores. Whilst some claim that audiobooks and e-books may spell the end for conventional book stores and libraries, it seems that they are, in fact, contributing to their growth. In 2016, some 55 million audiobooks were borrowed from libraries and schools in the United States, along with almost 140 million e-books.
However, whilst the evidence suggests that audiobooks are increasing in popularity in the United States, the reality is that conventional print books still remain the most popular way to read a book. Whilst e-books and audiobooks have enjoyed moderate success in recent years, they still have some way to go to catch up with the trusted print book.
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