Half of all Americans over the age of 12 have listened to an audiobook in the past year, according to a new consumer survey and research report from Edison Research and Triton Media, conducted on behalf of the Audio Publishers Association. This is up from 44% of in 2018. The further penetration can be attributed to more users listening in cars. According to the new report, 74% of audiobook consumers listen in their car, up from 69% in 2018, and 19% percent of Americans age 12 and older have access to an in-dash information and entertainment system in their (or their family's) vehicle, up from 15% last year -- of those, 62% who have in-dash systems have listened to an audiobook.
Home listening is second most popular way of listening to audiobooks, with 68% of respondents saying they listen at home, down from 71% in 2018. The survey revealed that 42% of audiobook listeners age 18 and older own a smart speaker (Alexa or Google Home device, for example) and of those, nearly one-third are using them to listen to audiobooks.
The survey confirmed the popularity of audiobooks among younger listeners, with 55% of all listeners being under the age of 45, and a little more than half of "frequent listeners" (a term which remained undefined and unquantified in the initial press summary of the report) being between 18-44 years-of-age. More than half of listeners have also listened to a podcast in the last month.
On average, audiobook listeners consumed 6.8 audiobooks in the last 12 months, which is up from 6.5 in the previous survey; 24% have listened to 10 or more in that period. Over half of all listeners -- 56% -- said they were making more "new" time for audiobooks in their lives.
Mystery, thriller, and suspense titles remain the most popular genres for audiobook consumers, followed by nonfiction -- history, biography and memoirs -- and humor.
“This new data continues the positive trends we’ve seen the last few years. Audiobooks are becoming more mainstream, and most of the growth is coming from people using technology to find time in their day to consume more books,” said Chris Lynch, co-chair of the APA’s Research Committee and president and publisher, Simon & Schuster Audio. “Hitting the 50% mark in audiobook consumer penetration is a major milestone, but the even better news is that the data points to significant upside in the future.”