The Audio Publishers Association’s annual sales survey, out today, revealed an 11th straight year of double-digit growth in audiobook sales. For 2022, the 28 APA member publishers reported an overall revenue increase of 10%, bringing the estimated industry total to $1.8 billion in sales for the year. Growth cooled in 2022 from the 25% jump in 2021 over 2020, which likely reflected a pandemic-fueled surge. (The Association of American Publishers final industry sales estimates also put the trade audiobook market at $1.8 billion.)
In tandem with its sales survey, the APA also released its annual consumer survey (polling Americans 18 and older), which indicated that the audiobook listening market is expanding. More than half—53%—of U.S. adults said they had listened to an audiobook at some point, marking a significant jump from 45% in 2022. This breaks down to nearly 140 million Americans who have tried an audiobook.
The demographics of the audio market are skewing younger and more diverse. The APA’s latest survey reveals that 57% of audiobook listeners are between the ages of 18 and 44, compared to 49% of the U.S. population falling into this same age range. The numbers also show that 29% of audiobook listeners identify as either African American or Hispanic, compared to 27% of the U.S. population.
Some data in the consumer survey, including a slight decrease in audiobook consumption, indicate that listeners have returned to their pre-pandemic habits. Listeners reported that they listened to an average of 6.3 audiobooks in the last year (matching the pre-pandemic average), down from 6.9 in 2022.
One pandemic-era growth spurt that is exhibiting some staying power is in the children and family listening area. Fifty-six percent of audiobook listeners with children reported that their kids listen to audiobooks. Though this number has decreased from the high mark of 61% in 2022, it is still higher than the 35% measured pre-pandemic in 2020. As a reflection of this upward swing, the children’s audiobook category grew by 41% in 2022, but it still accounts for only 3% of the total audiobook market.
General fiction remained the largest category, though humor, nonfiction, and romance all had solid sales gains in 2022.