Sales Of Audiobooks Are Gaining On Print Books

"QUIET! This is the best part!" (bigpresh)

“QUIET! This is the best part!” (bigpresh)

While rising prices are causing sales of e-books to slump, there’s another, somewhat unlikely challenger to the traditional print book throne: audiobooks, formerly known on family road trips as “books on tape,” have been outselling paper copies much of the time.

Jeremy Olshan over at MarketWatch was stumped as to why audiobooks are suddenly proving so popular: it’s the fastest-growing segment of the book publishing industry, according to the Audio Publishers Association, even though text is still on top.

According to Amazon’s audiobook subsidiary Audible, which wouldn’t disclose exact sales figures across formats to Olshan, the company found examples of books in every genre that sell better in the audio format than written words, in some cases, four times as well.

Why are they garnering new fans? One reason, Olshan posits, is celebrity narrators, both mainstream celebrities — like Jake Gyllenhaal and Tim Robbins — as well as folks who have narrated other popular books in the past.

Olshan gives the example of Andrew Peterson, who used his own money to hire his favorite audiobook narrator Dick Hill, who may be best known as the voice of Jack Reacher in Lee Child’s best-selling series, to provide the track for the audio version of his debut novel, First to Kill.

“If you liked Jack Reacher, the main character in this book reminds me of him,” one commenter said on Audible’s site, referring to Peterson’s book. “I have listened to many Dick Hill narrations. In fact, searching by his name is how I discovered Andrew Peterson,” another added.

Peterson’s series proved to be four times as popular in the audiobook format as it was in the print version.

On the other hand, there are some folks who probably don’t care about the narrator. For them, it could just be a personal preference to learn or consume by listening, instead of reading.

Audiobooks have begun to outsell print [MarketWatch]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.