The publishing industry has been betting on the audiobook for some years now. This can be seen in both, the growth of its unit sales and the increase in the consumption of audiobooks on subscription platforms during 2020. But, what is the reason for this upturn? Firstly, because of the pandemic of COVID-19 which has worked against the printed book; secondly, because of a factor that has not been fully considered: today’s readers (characterized by their affiliation to digital technology) are looking for the virtual experiences that they have been enjoying in electronic books (e-books and audiobooks).
Although surveys on reading habits usually focus on the number of books read1, we should consider the number of hours readers spend surfing cyberspace or visiting their favorite social networks, since a good part of that time is spent reading. How many posts, how many comments, how many articles and journalistic notes do we read in a day, in a month? Surely more than the number of books reported by censuses. In addition, digital readers find in the audiobook what they get in social networks and the Internet: a reading experience that combines multimedia content with interaction between readers. There are many audiobook platforms that allow users to rate titles, write reviews, and share opinions with other users, which enriches the reading experience.
The audiobook can provide the digital reader what they look for on social media and the internet: a reading experience that merges multimedia and interaction between readers.
But not only that: the audiobook also adapts to our current lifestyle. An important fact revealed by the Reading Module (Molec) conducted by the (Mexican) National Institute of Geography and Statistics (INEGI, 2021) is that, in Mexico, almost half of those surveyed (43.9%) report that they do not read due to lack of time. In view of this, the audiobook is a format that is much more compatible with other tasks, and even allows reading while not at home or while finishing house chores.
With sustained annual growth, the multiplication of its sales channels and the increase in bets on this format (Amazon’s Audible and Grupo Planeta’s Planeta Audio will increase their catalog, while Stotytel has signed an agreement to offer its library on Spotify), the audiobook is on the hunt for the digital reader with a wide offer adapted to the needs of today’s life and, above all, providing the multimedia experience we are looking for.
Hernández Navarro, Salma Jael. (2021, May 19th). Audiolibros, y las ventajas y desventajas de leer mientras tienes otras actividades, en Milenio. Retrieved from: https://bit.ly/3wdCJhe on June 10th, 2021.
Instituto Nacional de Geografía y Estadística. (INEGI). (2021, February). Módulo sobre lectura (Molec). Retrieved from https://bit.ly/36ctu6k on June 9th, 2021.
1 Although the so-called Reading Module in its 2021 edition reports that 57.6% of those surveyed stated that they read content on the Internet, forums or blogs, it does not provide data on the number of hours spent reading on these sites. See INEGI (2021).