From the BBC:
While audiobook sales are up and physical book sales down, it’s not a given that the two things are related. In fact, audio is pulling in new audiences – whether that’s listeners who don’t usually buy books, or readers listening to genres in audio format that they wouldn’t pick up in print.
Research by Nielsen Book found downloads of audiobooks in the UK were particularly high among urban-dwelling males aged 25 to 44. Laurence Howell, content director at Audible – the Amazon-owned audiobook platform – says they’ve also seen big growth in the 18-to-24 age group. “This is not an age group that is traditionally a strong book-buying group.” A study by The Publisher’s Association found 54 per cent of UK audiobook buyers listen to them for their convenience, while 41 per cent choose the format because it allows them to consume books when reading print isn’t possible.
There is much debate about whether listening to a book is the same as reading it, but perhaps that misses the point. “Often audio is not competing with time spent with books,” says Richard Lennon, publisher at Penguin Audio. “It’s people who are either fitting books and authors into their day in new ways, so people who might be existing readers but have found that during their commute or exercising or cooking dinner, there’s an opportunity to listen. Or it’s an alternative to TV for people who are conscious of their screen time. The really exciting audience for me is people for whom reading and books are not fundamentally part of their lives.”