From The Wall Street Journal:
The digital revolution that flummoxed the music, movie and publishing industries has given rise to a surprising winner: the audiobook.
Audiobooks are the fastest-growing format in the book business today. Sales in the U.S. and Canada jumped 21% in 2015 from the previous year, according to the Audio Publishers Association. The format fits neatly in the sweet spot of changing technology and changing behavior. Carrying around a pocket-size entertainment center stuffed with games, news, music, videos and books has conditioned people to seek out constant entertainment, whether walking to a meeting or sitting in a doctor’s office. For more multitasking book-lovers, audiobooks are the answer.
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Producers and retailers also are trying to hook people like 34-year-old Tiara Walker. Last year, facing a mounting reading list, Ms. Walker popped on her headphones and sailed through more than 50 titles, from Claudia Rankine and Shonda Rhimes to Stephen King and Gillian Flynn. This year, she’s already surpassed that tally.
Ms. Walker, an employment-services representative for Alabama’s Department of Labor, listens to audiobooks while watching her daughter’s softball practices, handling rote tasks at work and doing laundry at her home in Eufaula, Ala.
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Some 64% of American adults now own a smartphone, up from 35% in the spring of 2011, according to the Pew Research Center. In 2016, 63% of all cars sold will have a built-in modem or a smartphone connection via Bluetooth, wi-fi or USB, said Egil Juliussen, principal analyst for car-market researcher IHS Automotive Technology. Sales of audiobooks on CD are declining slightly but won’t disappear as long as cars have CD players, as most current models do, said Michele Cobb, executive director of the Audio Publishers Association. Libraries now offer both formats.
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The surge in audiobooks marks “a massive turning point,” said Donald Katz, Audible’s founder and chief executive. “Many, many millions of people give us on average two hours a day.”
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Amazon also is more prominently featuring Audible’s Whispersync for Voice option, which allows e-book readers to toggle back and forth between an e-book and a discounted audiobook version. (Using this technology, someone could, for example, read a few chapters on the train home and then switch on the audiobook while cooking dinner.)
Whispersync sales were up nearly 60% in 2015 compared with the previous year—a reflection of both its increased visibility and an uptick in available titles to around 100,000, according to Audible.
Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Link may expire) and thanks to Dave for the tip.