Experts estimate that these books will occupy 30% of the book market in five years' time
According to data for 2016, there are 4,000 audiobooks available in Spanish, with sales bringing in 2.1 million dollars worldwide. As readers in Spain are relatively new to this format (40% of users have been listening to audiobooks for less than a year), we are seeing just the beginning. Experts predict that audiobooks will come to hold 30% of the book market in five years’ time. Currently, readers consume a yearly average of 6.7 audiobooks, the most popular genres being crime, mystery and thrillers, followed by historical novels, biographies and romance, which is not dissimilar to the paper market. And despite what many suggest, paper books, e-books and audiobooks do not compete with each other; in fact, they complement one another: 75% of audiobook listeners are regular readers of other book formats too.
Audiobooks have not just come on the scene, but the emergence of smartphones has certainly made them much easier to access. We are experiencing an audiobook ‘spring’, so to speak. For Sílvia Clemares, a teacher on the UOC’s Master’s Degree in Digital Edition, with this format, “we don’t lose anything; in fact, we gain more reading time per day. In the midst of today’s digital revolution, reading doesn’t only mean reading in print, but also reading in digital format. The Kobo eReader, for instance, offers a pleasing digital reading experience: readers are uninterrupted by alerts and messages; they can enlarge the print and choose their preferred margin sizes and font; and the devise emits a relaxing light and only weighs around 150 grammes. Readers are also listening to audiobooks, which are read by narrators and emotionally connect us with the age-old tradition of storytelling”.
The audiobook widens the range of new readers and, on the other hand, it allows those who already read, to read more. Seventy-seven per cent of consumers say that listening to audiobooks allows them to finish more books. The expert highlighted that “they offer you another, more relaxed way to read and one that does not require so much effort. New reading spaces are discovered”.
Each format has its own space and readers have to change their mindset. If anyone understand this, it is young people. Forty-eight per cent of audiobook listeners are less than 35 years old. Ms Clemares, country manager of content for Spain, Portugal and Latin America for the Canadian company Rakuten Kobo, points out that “mobile phones are an integral part of young people’s daily lives and, for those who love to read, listening to audiobooks is a natural transition and one that allows them to extend reading times. At Rakuten Kobo, we have detected that there is more gender parity in the consumption of audiobooks when compared to e-books (more women than men read e-books)”.
“Readers choose when and how they read. In the same day, they may listen to an audiobook while cooking, dive into an e-book on the train to work, and flip through a paper book on the couch at home”, she explained. In fact, “one of the most valued features of audiobooks is the fact that they allow us to do other tasks while listening. According to statistics from SMART Locuciones, a company specializing in audiobooks, 52% of readers listen to audiobooks while travelling, 25% while exercising and 23% while doing housework”.
Forty per cent of the audiobooks released so far have a duration of less than an hour, thirty per cent between one and three hours, and the rest, more than four. “Anyway”, said Sílvia, “it is a format that many people have not tried yet, so we may see demographic changes in its use over time”.