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The Audiobook Boom

When was the last time someone read you a story? If it hasn't been since kindergarten, it might be time to rediscover this simple pleasure being enjoyed by people around the world in growing numbers.

 

Audiobooks require only that you listen which, for some, is a daunting task right off the bat. But for the rest of us, letting your mind wander to a new place through a story read by a friendly voice is a worthy escape.

 

The Audiobook Publishers Association reports that in 2020:

  • The car is the #1 place for listening, but plenty of people listen at home
  •  The most popular genre is Mysteries/Thrillers/Suspense
  •  U.S. audiobook sales in 2019 totaled $1.2 billion, up 16% from the previous year
  • The average audiobook fan listens to eight books a year

 As you can see, having someone read to you is totally acceptable for adults. And why not? People are reading fewer books, newspapers and magazines in favor of bite-sized info chunks on their phones and tablets. Listening to a story while driving, sitting at home or in-secret while feigning interest in a ZOOM meeting is a passive pursuit that requires no more concentration than that required for safe driving.

 

The beautiful things about audiobooks are:

  • The gear you have to purchase to enjoy them: none. The vast majority are downloaded to smartphones or other devices that go with you anywhere. You can still buy some on CD, but why? 
  • Celebrity narrators--Reese Witherspoon, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Viold Davis to name just a few--and it's not unusual for high-profile authors to narrate their own books--Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, David Sedaris, Questlove, Tiffany Hadish come to mind.
  • It's a performance, right in your car, sparking imagination, inspiration and random good feeling.
  • Freebies are available from authors eager to collect reviews or word-of mouth. Join a Facebook group such as Audiobooks for Free where you can get promo codes for free audiobook downloads IF you promise to leave an honest review afterwards (reviews are the currency of independent authors).

Finally, creating an audiobook is easier than ever and can be done totally for free IF you are willing to be your own narrator or IF you can find a narrator who will do the work without any upfront money. The latter is harder than ever. Most no longer rely on a simple "royalty share" and want you to agree to a "per finished hour" rate of $50 to $200 or more. If your book runs 5 hours or more of read time, you can see how that adds up. But, you can explore the options further at acx.com, the site owned by Audible/Amazon where it's all explained in detail. ACX.com, it should be noted, is designed for audiobooks destined for Audible/Amazon/iBooks. There are other venues if you want your audiobook to be distributed beyond Audible and iBooks.

 

Can you think of a better time in recent history to indulge in story time? Listen up!

 

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