As the fastest-growing segment in book publishing, audiobooks have been growing in popularity over the last several years. The audio format enables consumers to enjoy the content in places and during situations otherwise inaccessible to print books and ebooks, like driving a car or exercising in the gym.
We decided to take a look at how much and in what ways people consume audiobooks in order to understand the habits of audiobook listeners. This report compiles statistics and insights into the listening habits of audiobook consumers.
How many people listen to audiobooks?
- Around 45% of Americans have listened to an audiobook as of 2022, a slight drop from 46% recorded in 2021.
- In the UK, over 44% of adults listened to an audiobook in 2021, and over 27% of them listened to audiobooks every week.
- Audiobooks account for 11% of the total time spent on listening to audio content as of 2022. In 2018, this share stood at 6%, meaning that audiobooks’ share increased by 83% over the last 5 years.
- In 2021, over 23% of US adults stated that they’ve listened to an audiobook over the last 12 months.
- This is a jump from 20% of listeners in 2019 and a 101% increase over 2011, when only 11% of Americans reported reading an audiobook in that year.
- Overall, as of 2021, over half of American adults have consumed digital books, whether audiobooks or ebooks.
- The average audiobook consumer in the US listens to around 8.1 audiobooks during a year as of 2020. This is a 19% increase compared to 2019, when people listened to 6.8 audiobooks in a year.
|Year||Share of US adults who listened to an audiobook||Change|
Audiobook listening demographics
- 25% of adult American females have read an audiobook in 2021, an increase from 22% in 2019.
- On the other hand, 22% of men read an audiobook in 2021, also an increase from 17% in 2019.
- African Americans are reading audiobooks the most relative to their population in the US, as over 26% of black adults stated that they’ve consumed audiobooks during the year.
- The number of Black citizens who listen to audiobooks increased by 100% since 2019, when only 13% of them stated that they’d consumed the format.
- Over 57% of Americans younger than 50 listen to at least one audiobook during a year. On the other hand, only 12% of those older than 65 do so.
The share of US adults who listen to at least one audiobook during a year is presented in the table below:
Children’s audiobook consumption has increased significantly over the last few years, mostly as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on educational publishing:
- In 2021, over 61% of parents in the United States said that their children listen to audiobooks.
- In 2020, only 35% of parents made this statement. This huge increase is attributed to disruptions in the educational system during lockdowns.
Audiobook listeners’ category of preference is different from the average book reader in the United States:
- Over 65% of all audiobook sales in the US are coming from the fiction category, while only 35% are nonfiction audiobooks.
- However, nonfiction is growing faster, jumping from 22.4% in 2013 to 35% in 2023.
Activities while listening to audiobooks
One of the main advantages audiobooks have over the other two formats is the fact that they allow multitasking. While this is very convenient for the majority of audiobook users, there are still debates over the effectiveness and information retention gained during audiobook listening while multitasking.
- Around 70% of American adults reported that they engage in multitasking while listening to audiobooks.
- Women are more likely to multitask while listening to audiobooks than men, as over 73.4% of female Americans engage in multitasking while consuming audiobook content.
- On the other hand, 66.1% of men multitask while listening to an audiobook.
- It’s interesting that Boomers multitask while listening to audiobooks more than the national average, 72.5% of them. Boomers tend to multitask less often than the general population for all other formats.
- Millennials also multitask 72.5% of the time they listen to an audiobook, while Gen X does it only 58%, way below the national average.
|Population||Share of the population that multitasks while listening to audiobooks|
- When it comes to the type of activities that people do while listening to audiobooks, most of the people engage in driving, 65% of them.
- 45% of audiobook listeners like to focus on household activities while listening to audiobooks, like chores and other housework.
- Over half of audiobook listeners prefer to listen to audiobooks before sleep.