Portland State University. Department of English
Publishers and publishing, Electronic publishing
While audiobooks have been around since the invention of the phonograph, the invention of streaming technologies, combined with our increasingly fast-paced, multitasking culture, has caused audiobooks to become the fastest growing market in the publishing industry in recent years. In fact, since 2013 the audiobooks market has seen sales growth of an average of 20% per year, according to studies done by the Audio Publishers Association. However, many small publishers are not entering into the vital “new” frontier and reaching greater markets because of assumptions about the cost-prohibitive nature of creating audiobooks, and a lack of knowledge of the industry and options available to them. The audiobooks market is also another arena where small publishers would have to fight to compete with the top five publishers in the US, and without the right tools and knowledge, it may not seem like a good investment.
With much of the audiobooks data existing outside of platforms small publishers normally use to research new ventures and markets, such as DecisionKey (formerly Nielsen BookScan), it is difficult for them to know where to start. The Audio Publishers Association publishes annual reports on audiobooks industry growth and consumer habits that are featured by publishing outlets such as Publishers Weekly and Good eReader, but the complete data is only available to members of the APA, who are people and companies already making audiobooks. The APA does have a page on their website called “Getting Started” aimed at helping those just beginning to get into audiobooks, but even that is primarily a list of resources without much explanation of the processes or options available.
However, small publishers can use the data available to the public through the APA, audiobook best seller lists, and advice from industry professionals to make well-informed decisions when getting into the audiobooks market, and even better-quality audiobooks that allow them to compete with Big 5 publishers. This paper will take a look at data publicly published by the APA about the audiobooks market from 2013 to 2017, audiobook best seller lists for the month of April 2019 from Amazon, Audible, and the New York Times, and interviews with several industry professionals in order to create a best practices guide specifically for small publishers exploring the options available to them for getting into the fastest growing market in publishing.
Anderson, Stephanie, "The Small Publisher’s Guide to Audiobooks" (2019). Book Publishing Final Research Paper. 42.