Audiobooks remain fastest growing sector in digital publishing

Audiobook downloads hit a record £31 million sales last year, up 22%, according to new figures released today by the Publishers Association which mark the start of Love Audio Week.

The statistics, pre-released ahead of the Publishers Association’s annual publishing yearbook, show that the audiobook market continues to boom as audio publishers across the UK come together to celebrate the format under the #LoveAudio hashtag.

Audiobooks remain the fastest growing area in digital publishing with publishers reporting sales more than doubling (+148%) since 2013.

The statistics reinforce the growth shown in Nielsen’s recent 2017 UK Books and Consumer Survey, which show that 5.7 million people had bought or listened to an audiobook across all formats (CD, tape, download or streaming) in the last 12 months—an increase of 7% on 2014.

The figures also show that audiobooks continue to be most popular with men aged 25–44yrs.

Following on from a successful social media campaign last year, the Publishers Association’s Audio Publishers Group is running the second Love Audio Week from 11-17 June.

Stephen Lotinga, Chief Executive of the Publishers Association, said:

“It is great to see strong growth in audiobook sales and our latest figures show the sector is going from strength to strength.

“Publishers are investing and innovating in audio so that audiences can experience books in new ways and that is why it continues to be the fastest growing digital format.

“Audiobooks are vital in allowing a wider audience of readers to discover and experience storytelling on their own terms. It is this type of digital innovation that is at the heart of supporting nationwide literacy.”

Sarah Shrubb, Chair of the Publishers Association’s Audio Publishers Group and audio publisher at Little, Brown, said:

“Audio publishers are thrilled to see that their hard work and investment is continuing to produce record-breaking market statistics. It’s a very exciting time for the industry, and every audio publisher has contributed to these fantastic results.”


Notes to editors

1. As part of Love Audio Week, the Publishers Association has pre-released statistics on audiobook download sales ahead of their Publishing Yearbook 2017 to be published in June 2018:

Total audiobook download sales
YoY growth
 2013  £12m















a. NB As a result of a more accurate method to gross up the market and wider coverage by the participants, the Publisher Association has revised the historical data on audiobook download sales, showing that the 2016 figure underestimated the market by £9m. These figures do not include non-traditional publishing (sales of self-published titles, books published by Amazon and from new digital-only media companies).

2. The consumer research is from Nielsen’s UK Books & Consumers Survey (copyright Nielsen Book Research 2018). It shows that:

a. In 2017, 10.6% (5.7m) of the UK population aged 13-84 had bought or listened to an audiobook (on CD/tape/downloaded/streamed) in the previous 12 months;

b. The proportion of 13-84s buying/listening to audiobooks in 2017 rises to 14% among social grade AB, to 15% of males aged 25-34, and 17% of males aged 35-44;

c. The number in the UK population buying/listening to audiobooks across all formats was 7% higher in 2017 than in 2014;

d. The number buying/listening via downloading/streaming was 25% higher in 2017 than 2014;

e. Among those buying a book in the previous month, the proportion who listened to audiobooks (on CD/tape/downloaded) at least weekly rose from 12% in 2012 to 14% in 2017;

3. Love Audio Week will run from Monday 11th June to Sunday 17th June.

a. Through featured content on the campaign website (such as behind the scenes videos of audiobook production, clips of authors and narrators, promotions and more) and branded collateral across social media (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram), the campaign aims to engage book consumers and the publishing industry, including traditional book buyers and podcast listeners who haven’t tried audiobooks yet and publishing professionals who are interested in the sector. High profile authors and narrators who will be involved in the activity around the campaign include Sarah Millican, Stephen Fry, Lynda LaPlante, Eddie Izzard, Lorelai King, Anthony Horowitz and Fearne Cotton.

b. The campaign is an initiative of the Audio Publishers Group, chaired by Sarah Shrubb (Little, Brown), which consists of audio publishers Bolinda, Bonnier, Canongate, Creative Content Digital, Faber & Faber, Hachette UK (Headline Publishing Group, Hodder & Stoughton, John Murray Press, Little, Brown, Orion and Quercus), HarperCollins UK, Listening Books, Pan Macmillan, Penguin Random House, RNIB, Simon & Schuster UK, Strathmore Publishing, Talking Books, and W. F. Howes Ltd.