Audiobooks have increasingly emerged as an entertaining, easily accessible and portable option for all ages to enjoy books. Last year, the Audio Publishers Association (APA) reported more than 67 million Americans listen to audiobooks each year.
“It’s another banner year for audiobooks,” said Anthony Goff, vice president and research committee chair for the APA, and senior vice president, publisher at Hachette Audio. According to Tom Webster, vice president of strategy for Edison Research, “The audiobook market continues to grow, with more people than ever before indicating that they have listened to the medium in the past year. That growth, combined with the growth of the podcast market and the strong relationship between the two, are all part of a renaissance for spoken-word programming.”
Libraries remain major access channels and important drivers of audiobook discovery, with over a quarter of its visitors reporting borrowing from a library/library website was very important for discovering new audiobooks. The Free Library of Philadelphia is one of the most widely used educational and cultural institutions in the region and reports having over 6 million annual visitors. A patron with a valid library card can download audiobooks from OverDrive to their PC, Mac or mobile device in person at a Free Library location and online with a library card. When the audiobook is due, the patron must renew it or find it automatically “returned” in a virtual sense: The file still sits on the patron’s computer, but encryption makes it unplayable beyond the borrowing period. “The patron doesn’t have to do anything after the lending period,” said Steve Potash, chief executive of OverDrive audiobook service. “The file expires. It checks itself back into the collection. There’s no parts to lose. It’s never damaged. It can never be late.”
According to the Free Library, “cardholders can check out and download digital titles at home and on-the-go by visiting the eFreeLibrary page of the Free Library’s website. From there, they can browse and check out the growing collection of bestsellers, new releases and classic titles. Once downloaded, digital titles can be enjoyed on a computer or transported to a supported mobile device. Many audio titles can also be burned to a CD. With digital downloads, customers do not need to worry about overdue materials or late fees — at the end of the lending period, digital titles automatically expire and are returned to the digital collection.”
While the digital age may have changed how people consume books, one bestselling book has stood the test of time. Dale Carnegie’s perennial 1936 classic, “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” retains its perch as one of the most in-demand self-help books as a top-10 audiobook.