BookNet Canada released a study of audiobook consumption last month, giving publishers insight into consumers’ discoverability and use habits in the country. A follow-up on a 2014 study of Canadian audiobook usage, the November report looked specifically at how audiobook users found and purchased content.
Discoverability is an important consideration for audiobook publishers–the wealth of audiobooks available can make it difficult for users to find new content, and it makes competition difficult for all audiobook publishers and retailers. The majority of users surveyed in this year’s study found the last audiobooks they had listened to on retailers’ websites and on the recommendation of friends; libraries, best-seller lists and reviews were also helpful.
While retailers were helpful, they weren’t always the ultimate place of download: borrowing from public libraries and taking advantage of free downloads were more frequently used for acquisition of new audiobooks than purchasing from online retailers , such as Amazon or Audible.
Amazon and Audible were, however, the most frequently used online retailers, Audible seeing 20.7% of last purchases (compared to 14.2% in 2014) and Amazon seeing 21.0% (compared to 21.5% in 2014). iTunes, another popular audiobook retailer, saw a 3.0% drop from 2014, from 17.7% of last purchases in 2016 to 14.7% two years ago.
It’s worth noting that online retailers frequently offer free downloads, and all work diligently on methods of enhancing discoverability, from better search functions to special playlists of featured audiobooks, hoping to convince consumers to develop loyalty to retailers when smaller (and therefore easier to filter through), free collections are available at many public libraries.