The Audiobook Industry in 2017: My Thoughts

While browsing my Facebook feed today, I came across this article from Publisher’s Weekly which discusses the Audiobook industry in 2017. In short, continued growth is expected both in sales and volume of product available.

This feels right to me and not simply because as a fan of audiobooks I want it to be correct. I believe that the growth of the audiobook industry and the growth of the podcast industry are related. In fact, I believe that the appeal of audiobooks and podcasts are pretty obviously closely linked. The only real difference that I see is that most podcasts can be obtained for free. Sure, you can borrow audiobooks from the library or get some titles free from sites like Librivox but increased book sales suggest that people really like having ownership of titles.

Increased product availability going forward is good news. Particularly if you are a fan of older works that still haven’t been produced as audiobooks. It also means that more of what gets published in 2017 will recieve an audiobook version but my gut tells me that in order to stand out in the crowd, some publishers will concentrate on mining the vault for material.

Continued growth for the audiobook industry means good news for related ventures, even if to a lesser degree. Not every movie-goer cares enough to look online to see what films are coming out when, who is being cast in what future blockbuster or how each movie they plan to see this month is being reviewed. Not everyone who goes to Star Wars movies is going to care enough to subscribe to a Star Wars odcast, read a Star Wars novel or Star Wars related blog. But in both of those cases, there are people who absolutely do and willdo exactly that.
This is why I believe that the world is just waiting for a truly great audiobook related website. There are a number of websites that offer good reviews but most limit themselves to a select genre or few genres. But I think a great audiobook website would offer more than just reviews. It would offer news about upcoming titles, narrator castings, bargains, articles covering the industry and so on. It would likely incorporate audiobook reviews in audio format perhaps in conjunction with a weekly podcast interviewing authors, narrators and other people in the industry.
An audiobooks only version of goodreads in a lot of ways. I get annoyed by the fact that on goodreads I can’t keep track of listening stats because they don’t calculate such things. Most of their audiobook listings are absent things like running time, for example. So a site that could offer users listening statistics would be interesting. The interest would definitely be limited, not every book listener is devoted to it hardcore, just like how not every movie-goer is hardcore but the hardcores are the ones who demonstrate a willingness to support their passions with both

If such a website ever came to pass I would love to be involved with it. Honestly, it was the vision I had for back in the day but required far more technical skill than I possess and required a lot more people than I was able to attract.
time and money. Even now the timing might not be right but it is getting closer in my opinion and this is one of those things where there would be some advantage to being first.