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Recently, there’s been a huge uptick in audiobook listenership. Last year alone, audiobook sales increased by 12 percent. In the past five years, sales have more than doubled.

Apps like Audible, Scribd, and Kindle are growing in popularity and more accessible than ever. It’s a booming industry to get into as a business and something easy to fall into as a consumer. Men and those who commute are the top two demographics of the contributors to the rise, but what else is behind it?

Looking at trends from the past few years, there are a few notable patterns that may help explain what exactly is behind the sudden rise of audiobooks. Here’s what we can tell so far about what’s behind the rise of audiobooks:

  1. It’s the Frequency, Not the Audience

The total readership of audiobooks hasn’t risen very drastically. This shows that the cause of the uptick in numbers isn’t due to tons of new readers being converted to audiobook listeners.

Rather, the number of audiobooks being listened to is what’s driving the increase. This means that the same audience is just listening to more books.

Thus, to understand why audiobooks have risen in popularity, you must understand why audiobooks have become more frequent amongst existing listeners.

  1. Bolstered by Technology

The frequency of audiobooks being listened to has increased due in part because of the new innovations in technology and accessibility of audio books.

Apps like the ones mentioned above have made it easier than ever to access audio books whenever you want. Further, smart speakers like Amazon’s Alexa make it simple to begin listening to a book whenever it crosses your mind.

Bluetooth in the car makes it easy to listen while driving, and the mobile versions of listening apps makes everything mobile and at your fingertips whenever, wherever.

  1. New Audio Policies

There have also been some recent changes in the contracts that publishing houses are creating with their authors. Because publishing houses understand the increasingly active demand for audiobooks, they have made special arrangements with authors in order to provide continuous new audio content for listeners.

For example, Harper Collins, one of the largest publishing houses, has what they call a “total audio policy”, which dictates that any book with a narrative plot must have an audio version along with it.

These changes create a steady stream of exciting, new content that incentivizes listeners to keep coming back for more fresh literature to listen to.

  1. Audio-Optimized Content

Because industry leaders are seeing the expansion of this format, they are changing the limits to the kind of audio content that is available. While long-read books are great for continuous listening and many people prefer this kind of audiobook experience, not everyone wants to invest in that kind of listening journey.

Some initiatives include Harper Collins’ Story Castle, a program that provides new bits of child-geared content each day via Google Assistant. These tidbits work great for rides to school in the morning, or classroom listening activities.

Other optimized content made for audio includes short pieces like journalistic articles and essays.

As time goes on and the genre expands, there will surely be even more audio-optimized content made specifically for the ears.

Listen Close

If you’re new to audio books and looking to get your feet wet, there are many options to help you get started.

Many apps offer free trials to try out the service, making it easy to decide which service works for you. If you’d rather take someone else’s word for it, you can check out reviews of Audible, such as the one on the Self Development Secrets website as a starting point.

Once you find your app of choice, you can listen along on your phone, in your car, or on a laptop. You can keep your place in your content when it’s time for a break and jump right back in later.

Reading just got a whole lot easier.