The booming audiobooks marketplace is an incredibly exciting place for publishers and consumers right now. The medium is exploding in popularity, offering readers new ways to engage with books and shaking up the ways literature is perceived, produced and consumed, both on and offline.
Audiobook sales increased significantly in 2015. A recent report revealed that 43,000 audiobooks were produced last year and close to 4 million were downloaded. The industry is now worth almost $3 billion globally, and many publishers are saying that the subscription audiobooks market has the potential to eclipse its e-books counterpart. The medium is even inspiring its own forms of cultural production: the aptly-named AudioFile is the world’s first audiobooks magazine, publishing reviews of audiobooks and interviews with narrators, as well as providing audiobook lovers with general news updates and information about industry trends.
For people interested in reading but perhaps lacking in free time, audiobooks represent a convenient and practical alternative to curling up with a book. Even for those leading fast-paced and hectic lifestyles, it’s not much of an imposition to plug in some headphones and enjoy an audiobook. People who have time to enjoy reading in print can even get something out of audiobooks by using them to maximize reading efficiency by reading print and audiobook versions of the same title concurrently.
Another big reason audiobooks are getting so popular is that more and more celebrities are lending their voices to their favorite stories, or books that they’ve written themselves. Maggie Gyllenhaal recently narrated the first audiobook release of Sylvia Plath’s celebrated classic The Bell Jar, and Stephen Fry’s narration of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series was extremely well received. Other celebrity audiobooks narrators include Nicole Kidman (To the Lighthouse), Ian McKellen (The Odyssey) and Uma Thurman (Maneater). As audiobooks listening becomes more popular, it could even open up new avenues of possibility for people seeking celebrity of their own—if you or someone you know has a distinctive voice that’s perfect for storytelling, this could be the time to shine.
To stand out amongst the competition, digital audiobooks providers are working to differentiate themselves and win customers in new and innovative ways. Audible, for example, is taking cues from Netflix and producing its own exclusive series of audiobooks that can only be accessed through the service. Audible Studios records its own versions of popular novels and is even producing brand new audio-only content exclusively for its subscribers.
Playster is another contender in the digital audiobooks marketplace. Besides offering movies, games, music and books, the fledgeling service also has a substantial collection of audiobooks as part of its multimedia offering. Unlike with competing services, users can pay a flat fee to browse and listen to as many audiobooks as they want—the majority of audiobooks providers require listeners to buy credits for each item of content they consume. Throw in the Playster-branded tablet and headphones custom-built for those signing up for a year, and you’ve got a pretty appealing offering for audiobooks aficionados.
Audiobooks are clearly on the up-and-up, and they’re getting people to read more books in new and interesting ways. The potential is vast, with audiobooks having the ability to pull reading from a private, individual experience to one that could be enjoyed in a group setting. This has fascinating implications for books as a medium, and with the increasing popularity of digital audiobooks as a form of entertainment, it’s safe to say that reading is by no means a dying activity—it’s simply evolving to accommodate our increasingly busy lifestyles.
(The above is sponsored content from Playster. The opinions here are not necessarily TeleRead’s or vice versa.)