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Audiobook Download and Listener Trends; Plus Three Services Compared

Audiobooks are still the rage, with convenience apparently being the key to the ever-expanding market of books for listeners to download. Audiobooks, available to stream online, download on your phone, or play via CDs, make the perfect companion for long commutes, household chores, or just a quiet evening at home.

In its report analyzing audiobook trends from 2010 to 2016, Statista surmised that sales revenue more than doubled during this six-year period. “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 6,200 to over 50,000 in the same time frame,” the company reported.

While the number of audiobook titles on the market has exploded, the number of audiobook listeners really hasn’t changed that much.

The key to consistency in the audiobook market might be that, instead of the number of listeners growing, longtime consumers are simply choosing to listen to more audiobooks. A booming technology market centered on mobile phones, smart speakers, etc. might also be at play, according to Forbes.

“According to 2018 Edison Research data, the percentage of Americans who have ever listened to an audiobook stands at 44 (percent), just one point up from 2015’s 43 (percent),” the publication reported. “If the audience base isn’t expanding, the number of audiobooks each individual listens to must be going up, and that’s likely due to tech advancements that are changing their listening habits. …”

The largest consumer base for audiobooks are the under-45 crowd, who make up 54 percent of all audiobook listeners, according to Publishers Weekly in its report on research by the Audio Publishers Association.

“They are also consistent readers in all formats, the studies found: not only do audiobook listeners listen to an average of 15 books a year, but 83 (percent) of frequent listeners also read a hardcover or paperback over the last 12 months, and 79 (percent) also read an e-book,” PW reports.

Some Popular Sources for Audiobooks

Services like Scribd, Amazon’s Audible, and Audiobook.com are some of the common choices.  As for iTunes, listeners can expect to pay individually for each audiobook (unless you find an app that offers free audiobooks). I’ve spotted prices ranging from $2.99, $9.99, $17.99, and upward. The same goes for Google Play, although the service seems a little more dynamic and was offering a $10 off promo for audiobooks priced that are at least $10 and up. In addition, GooglePlay users who search for “free audiobooks” will find a few options among the results.

To make life a little simpler, here’s a look at Audiobook.com, Amazon’s Audible, and Scribd compared.

Audiobooks.com

Get one audiobook download to enjoy free of charge for 30 days. Afterward, pay $14.95 every month and enjoy one audiobook, or buy additional credits to listen to more titles. You can cancel your subscription at any time, and any downloaded books are yours to keep. As Audiobooks.com notes, you can listen on a smartphone, tablet, or laptop and “switch seamlessly between devices without losing your place.” Audibooks.com is one of our affiliate partners, so if you sign up for the 30 days free introductory offer or continue your subscription with them, Faithfully Magazine may receive a commission. Check them out and see what you think.

Typical feedback for Audiobooks.com: Although users in general have left favorable reviews of the service, there have been a few who found Audiobooks.com overpriced and lacking in inventory.

Audible (an Amazon company)

Audible has the benefit of being backed by perhaps the largest online retailer in the U.S., Amazon. Audible boasts more than 425,000 titles, and has started off 2019 by offering new subscribers seven free audiobook listens. After 30 days, subscribers pay $14.95 every month and can expect up to three audiobooks. In addition, subscribers can roll over any unused credits and exchange unwanted audiobooks for free. As with Audiobooks.com, you can cancel the subscription at any time and whatever you download is yours to keep. Audible states: “You can enjoy them anytime, anywhere and on any device with the Audible app.” Amazon.com is another one of our affiliate partners, so Faithfully Magazine may receive a commission if you sign up for Audible.

Typical feedback for Audible: In general, members find Audible agreeable. However, some users take issue with the service’s time limits on trading in unwanted books and storing credits. Some have also complained about difficulty canceling their subscription.

Scribd

You can join Scribd’s 700,000-plus subscribers for just $8.99 a month. The audiobook options seem to be about the same for standard titles, such as Michelle Obama’s Becoming, Tara Westover’s Educated, and John Carreyrou’s Bad Blood. In addition to audiobooks, though, subscribers also can tap unlimited ebooks, magazines, news, documents, and sheet music. Of course, the first month is free and you can cancel your subscription at any time. However, it seems once your subscription ends, so does access to their audiobooks, even if you had previously marked titles for downloading. Scribd doesn’t seem like such a bad deal for audiobook lovers who want to access numerous titles over a 30-day period, and have magazines and ebooks at their fingertips. In this sense, Scribd is basically like a (lending) library where you essentially pay a monthly maintenance fee for access and borrow as many titles as you want and return them whenever (“whenever” being within 30 days).

Typical feedback for Scribd: Most of the hangups with Scribd are related to how “unlimited” access isn’t always the case, particularly when it comes to popular audiobook titles.

Hopefully, that round-up was helpful. But if you’d rather skip paying for audiobooks altogether, there are some legit websites where you can find free books to listen to. In fact, BookRiot.com and HowToGeek.com have lists of sources where you can access numerous audiobooks legally. And let’s not forget, there is always the local library.

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Nicola A. Menzie
Nicola A. Menziehttp://www.nicolamenzieonline.com
Nicola A. Menzie a religion reporter whose bylines have appeared on the websites of the Religion News Service, The Christian Post, CBS News and Vibe magazine. Nicola is the Managing Editor at faithfullymagazine.com. You can find her on Twitter @namenzie. Email: nicola.menzie (at) faithfullymagazine.com.

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