Some of the most dramatic growth in the publishing industry has stemmed from audiobooks. From 2013 to 2014, audiobook sales’ profits grew by more than 13 percent. Some authors have even reported stronger sales from their audiobooks than from their print or ebooks.
Radio shows long ago faded from the headlines as television’s prominence grew. The smartphones and tablets that populate our world emphasize seeing, not hearing. So what is drawing people back to listening mode?
One explanation is the supreme quality of audiobooks. Audible, the popular audiobook producer, invests heavily in producing its projects. The company, which is owned by Amazon, creates original productions that translate into audio books. Audible adds music and radio-quality sound effects to its books. Some of its books are similar to a radio play version of the matching print book. These mini-plays are incredibly appealing to listeners.
Also, the ubiquity of smartphones and tablets allows audiobooks to be released from the car’s disc player. Now, people can listen to the books anytime and anywhere. Downloads allow people to listen to books being read aloud, no matter where they are.
Some big media names have recorded audiobooks. Rainn Wilson and Matthew McConaughey can be heard reading audiobooks. Many famous people who have crossed into authorship, such as Chelsea Clinton and Mindy Kaling, have recorded their own books in audio format.
Reportedly, reading for audiobooks is today’s job of choice for voice-over professionals. These readers have to summon incredible stamina to announce with a consistent voice over long work sessions. Even though the work is demanding and low-paying, they like having their voices recorded for posterity in a long format.
Audiobooks are also fun and interesting for the voice recorder. They demand acting skills to personalize each character, so that listeners can differentiate among them. Even when the book lacks a variety of characters, the narrator has to call on skills to convey the author’s thoughts accurately.
Audiobooks Broaden Books’ Appeal
Authors who release audio versions of their books increase their exposure. One reason is that people who love books tend to listen to audiobooks. They appreciate books so much that they are loathe to part from them, so they listen to them when they are driving, cooking, and performing other activities that preclude reading. These uber-consumers of books are likely to recommend books they like to friends and family, some of whom might buy the book in either print or audio form.
Additionally, people who have difficulty reading because of visual or reading disabilities can hear a book instead of reading it. That means more people can be exposed to a book in audio format.
Not everyone appreciates books read aloud, and some scientists argue that book listeners are easily distracted. But for a large portion of the population, audio books are a wonderful passion that opens their minds and imaginations.