For a 10th straight year, the Audio Publishers Association’s annual sales survey has revealed a double-digit increase in audiobook sales. The 28 member companies reporting to the APA had revenue gains of 25% in 2021 bringing the estimated industry total to $1.6 billion in sales last year. This 2021 jump bested a sales increase of 12% in 2020.
The number of audiobook titles published in 2021 was also up, to nearly 74,000 titles, representing a 6% increase over 2020’s output. Based on percentage of sales, the science fiction and fantasy genre was most popular category, with mysteries/thrillers/suspense a close second. The romance category experienced the largest sales boost in the year with a 75% jump in revenues.
Released simultaneously with the APA sales survey, the APA’s Consumer Survey (polling Americans 18 and older) indicated that 41% of listeners subscribe to at least one audiobook service, an increase over 38% reported in 2020.
Additionally, the consumer survey suggests that at least one listening behavior that shifted significantly during the height of the pandemic may be taking stronger root. In a sharp upturn, 61% of parents say their children (ages 17 and younger) listen to audiobooks, compared to 49% reported in 2020. This particular increase falls in line with the nationwide trend of families’ and students’ expanded use of digital materials in the wake of pandemic-related school disruptions/remote learning situations.