Audiobooks Market Size, Share & Trends Report

Audiobooks Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report By Genre, By Preferred Device (Smartphones, Laptops & Tablets, Personal Digital Assistants), By Distribution Channel, By Target Audience, By Region, And Segment Forecasts, 2020 - 2027

  • Published Date: Jun, 2020
  • Base Year for Estimate: 2019
  • Report ID: GVR-4-68038-588-5
  • Format: Electronic (PDF)
  • Historical Data: 2016 - 2018
  • Number of Pages: 171

Report Overview

The global audiobooks market size was valued at USD 2.67 billion in 2019 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 24.4% from 2020 to 2027. Audiobooks refer to the recordings that are being narrated by the authors or any other voiceover artists. The easy accessibility of these paperback copies by the physically-abled and non-English speaking groups are some of the key factors driving market growth. The evolution of books-on-tape over the past two decades has dramatically shaped the accessibility of the paperback material to a larger target audience with multiple listening mediums. Audiobooks were launched in 1932 by The American Foundation for the Blind for the visually impaired users. These were in the form of multiple 15 minutes recordings.

U.S. audiobooks market size

The industry has smoothly evolved by adopting new listening modes from books-on-tape and Compact Discs (CDs) with portable media players in the early 2000s to smartphones becoming prolific in the current era. Also, internet proliferation has primarily contributed in attaining traction by the broad set of audiences in recent years.

The prevalence of smart home technology has also provided lucrative opportunities for audiobooks market. However, a lack of smooth transition from taped materials to intelligent devices may falter market growth. Also, the interoperability between personal digital assistants and audiobook platforms may act as a pain point to this industry. For instance, the books published by Audible Inc., a U.K. based subsidiary of Amazon Inc., are only accessible with the latter’s Echo smart speaker. Such lack of casting options and restriction from connected entertainment developers acts as a roadblock to the market growth.

Furthermore, the narrator’s voice and pronunciation are one of the critical factors impacting the market growth. While good narration elevates the demand for recordings, bad storytelling with improper breath and pitch control, inefficient characterization, and inappropriate articulation may result in loss of interest by the listener. The published listening book versions are either recorded by the author themselves or the publishers hire voiceover artists to read the content fluently. The companies highly emphasize on selecting narrators who are not mumblers, droners, or tooth whistlers as well as trained sound engineers to captivate a target audience with smooth narrations.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, governments of affected countries have imposed stringent lockdowns and have mandated in-home isolation to the general public. Owing to the stay-at-home orders, physical libraries and universities have also shut down temporarily due to which students and book readers are venturing out for digital alternatives, audio versions being the most preferred one. During this pandemic, market players are offering multiple products to engage their audiences with unique screen-free entertainment. Audible, Inc. for instance launched an online taped books collection of free poetry, fables, novels, and educational material on their websites with no prior requirement of sign-up, log-in, as well as payment information.

Genre Insights

The non-fiction segment is anticipated to witness faster growth with a CAGR of over 25.0% during the forecast period. This is attributed to the rising popularity of educational material being largely preferred by parents to engross their kids and provide them screen-free time. The segment is bifurcated into fiction and non-fiction genres. The fiction genre primarily includes mysteries, fantasy, crime thrillers, and science. The segment held a higher revenue share of 65.6% of the overall market in 2019 and is likely to retain its dominance over the forecast period. Within the fictional category, science and mystery have emerged as the most popular genres among the target audiences.

The most popular forms of non-fiction audiobooks are history, biographies, and self-development material. The average length of an audiobook is one of the critical factors determining its popularity. The approximate length of a standard audio collection ranges from seven to nine hours and fluctuates based on its genre. While science fiction and fantasy content are of longer duration, comedy & humor books tend to be shorter. Casual audio listeners prefer shorter duration content, making it a hard sell for the key participants. To avoid this, prominent companies are launching audiobook boxsets with five to six editions to keep their target audiences engaged.

Target Audience Insights

In 2019, the adult audience accounted for the highest revenue share of more than 80% and was valued at over USD 2.00 billion. The various attributes of audiobooks such as offering brain stimulation and relaxation even during packed schedules or while multi-tasking is expected to highly contribute to the growth. Adults and kids are the target audience of the market. While the kids' segment constitutes for the target listeners’ up to 12 years, the adult segment refers to the users above 12 years.

The market is versatile as users listen to the content while multitasking at home or while driving, using their in-car entertainment systems, or in public transport during commutes. According to a consumer behavior survey conducted by the Audio Publishers Association (APA), approximately 60.0% of the listeners use these books while relaxing at home. Owing to the versatility of this industry, the adult audience is anticipated to make subscriptions on a large scale and retain the segment’s dominance over the forecast period.

Global audiobooks market share

The kids segment is anticipated to expand at the fastest CAGR over the forecast period. Over recent years, the platforms are being predominantly subscribed by the audience for educational and entertainment genres for kids. The multiple benefits of audiobooks for children, including improved visualization, sophisticated vocabulary, fostered narrative structure, and many other skills linked for improvising reading comprehension, are anticipated to offer lucrative opportunities to grow.

Preferred Device Insights

Smartphones have emerged as the most preferred listening device for recorded material accounting for 43.9% revenue share of the overall market in 2019. The portability to access recorded book versions while performing various other tasks and ease of downloading audio box sets are the key factors anticipated to drive this segment. Based on the preferred device, the market is classified into smartphones, laptops and tablets, personal digital assistants, and others.

Personal digital assistants, also known as smart speakers, are projected as the most favorable device to be adopted for listening to paperback content over the forecast period. The segment is anticipated to witness the fastest growth over the next seven years. According to The Consumer Technology Association, around 31.0% of Americans have a minimum one personal digital assistant in their households and that this adoption rate has doubled in the past two years.

The others segment includes CDs, portable MP3 players, and Bluetooth connected speakers. While smartphones and tablets are the most preferred listening device, the other devices are used by people who are not yet equipped with smart technologies or uninterrupted internet service. Also, CDs are being preferred by public libraries to provide a unique collection of audible paperback content for their members.

Distribution Channel Insights

The one-time download segment accounted for the highest revenue share of around 55% in 2019. The reading or listening enthusiasts still prefer making outright purchases of a single high-quality audiobook. Companies also go on to offer discounts and special pricing packages to attract users for outright buying of recorded content. For instance, Google, Inc. sells some of the audiobooks titles outright with a 30% to 50% discount with an additional feature of Family Library to include family members in the package.

The subscription-based distribution channel is forecasted to expand at the fastest CAGR of 25.6% from 2020 to 2027 due to the advent of Streaming-Books-On-Demand (SBOD) models. Consumers prefer buying subscription packages over one-time downloads as they provide access to a wide range of titles. Also, while subscription models are less expensive, with an average costing of USD 10 to USD 15 per month, the average cost of buying taped books outright is around USD 20 to USD 30. Based on the distribution channel, the market is bifurcated into a one-time download and subscription-based model.

With the soaring demand for subscription models, leading companies are shifting from outright selling to offering access to an unlimited number of audiobooks at competitive pricing. Key market players are also providing limited as well as unlimited subscription-based consumption models. For instance, Playster provides access to over 100 thousand recorded content with a monthly subscription fee of USD 14.95.

Regional Insights

In 2019, North America accounted for the largest revenue share of close to 45.0% in the global business, and the region is expected to continue dominating over the forecast period. The U.S. captured a revenue share of over 40.0% of the overall market in 2019 as it has emerged as the early adopter of the latest technologies that the audiobooks use. Furthermore, the region is anticipated to retain its uphold as most of the leading companies are based in the U.S.

Asia Pacific is also anticipated to hold a significant revenue share over the forecast period with China and Japan leading the regional growth. The availability of the books in non-English, as well as different regional languages, is anticipated to foster growth in this region from 2020 to 2027. In 2017, Audible, Inc. launched Chinese recorded book versions on its U.S. website with an aim to cater to the overseas Chinese-speaking populace. Furthermore, the adoption of recorded book versions in acting schools and film programs for teaching young actors on voice delivery by seasoned narrators is anticipated to highly contribute to the regional market growth.

Middle East and Africa on the other hand is forecasted to witness the fastest growth over the next seven years. The growing demand may be characterized by the onslaught of access to online payments and internet-enabled cellular and portable devices in the region during recent years. The market is observed to be in its initial stages with low penetration. Global publishers are focusing on upgrading audio mediums, hiring multiple narrators for full-cast recordings, and straight-to-audio launches to give a competitive edge to the regional players of China.

Key Companies & Market Share Insights

These dominant players are facing aggressive competition by the new entrants. The regional players are offering subscription-based lower tariffs to the users as compared to the global participants. However, the global players still have an uphold on this market as they are upgraded with a wide range of contents in their product portfolio. To maintain a competitive edge, the industry participants are continuously engaged in tie-ups and mergers with authors and publishing houses to attain the copyrights of the most popular paperback materials. They are also emphasizing on tie-ups with upcoming authors to launch ‘straight-to-audio’ books to attract their target audiences.

Furthermore, on account of the technological advancements, leading players are also upgrading their website and app-based platform to offer user-friendly experience to their audiences and widen their customer base. For instance, in July 2019, Audible publicized that they are planning to upgrade their app with Audible Captions feature that will transcribe the audiobooks to the listeners with the help of Machine Learning (ML), and the users will be able to simultaneously read along with listening to the narration. Some of the key players operating in the audiobooks market are:

  • Audible, Inc.

  • Amazon.co, Inc.

  • RBmedia

  • Playster

  • Google, Inc.

  • Rakuten Inc.

  • iBook’s by Apple Inc.

  • Storytel

Audiobooks Market Report Scope

Report Attribute

Details

Market size value in 2020

USD 3.3 billion

Revenue forecast in 2027

USD 15.0 billion

Growth Rate

CAGR of 24.4% from 2020 to 2027

Base year for estimation

2019

Historical data

2016 - 2018

Forecast period

2020 - 2027

Quantitative units

Revenue in USD billion, CAGR from 2020 to 2027

Report coverage

Revenue forecast, company ranking, competitive landscape, growth factors, and trends

Segments covered

Genre, preferred device, distribution channel, target audience, region

Regional scope

North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America, Middle East & Africa

Country scope

U.S., Canada, U.K., Nordic Countries, Australia, China, Japan, Brazil, Mexico

Key companies profiled

Audible, Inc., Amazon.co, Inc., RBmedia, Playster, Google, Inc., Rakuten Inc., iBook’s by Apple Inc., Storytel

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Segments Covered in the Report

This report forecasts revenue growth at global, regional, and country levels and provides an analysis of the latest industry trends in each of the sub-segments from 2016 to 2027. For the purpose of this study, Grand View Research has segmented the global audiobooks market report on the basis of genre, preferred device, distribution channel, target audience, and region:

  • Genre Outlook (Revenue, USD Billion, 2016 - 2027)

    • Fiction

    • Non-fiction

  • Preferred Device Outlook (Revenue, USD Billion, 2016 - 2027)

    • Smartphones

    • Laptops & Tablets

    • Personal Digital Assistants

    • Others

  • Distribution Channel Outlook (Revenue, USD Billion, 2016 - 2027)

    • One-time Download

    • Subscription-based

  • Target Audience Outlook (Revenue, USD Billion, 2016 - 2027)

    • Kids

    • Adults

  • Region Outlook (Revenue, USD Billion, 2016 - 2027)

    • North America

      • The U.S.

      • Canada

    • Europe

      • Nordic Countries

      • The U.K.

    • Asia Pacific

      • China

      • Australia

      • Japan

    • Latin America

      • Brazil

      • Mexico

    • Middle East & Africa

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