Half of all Canadians listened to an audiobook in 2021

Booknet Canada recently issued a new report that gives us a sense on Canadians and their love for digital audiobooks. The format has been on the rise for the past six years and is the fastest growing segment in publishing. Almost half of all Canadians listened to audiobooks in 2021 (45%). But just how many audiobooks are Canadians listening to? The majority of audiobook listeners listened to 1–5 audiobooks (48%). Another 30% listened to 6–11 audiobooks, 17% listened to 12–49 audiobooks, and 6% listened to 50 or more audiobooks. In terms of frequency, 27% of Canadians listened to audiobooks a few times a year, 24% once a week, and 18% less than once a month.

According to data collected for the Canadian Book Consumer Study 2021, 19% of all Canadian book buyers bought an individual audiobook or accessed an audiobook through a subscription service in 2021. Subscription services include Amazon Kindle Unlimited, Prime Reading, Scribd and Audible.

How are audiobook buyers making their purchases? Booknet found that 88% of audiobooks were bought via an online channel and 12% in person. These buyers also said they bought audiobooks at full price (35%), as part of a subscription (26%), or on sale (20%) for an average price of $13.43.

According to OverDrive, the world’s leading digital reading platform for libraries and schools, digital audiobook loans increased 156% between 2017 and 2021. In fact, 30% of all digital library loans in 2021 were audiobooks, up 4% from 2020. Bringing the focus back to the data collected for the Canadian Book Consumer Study 2021, we discovered that 9% of all library loans in 2021 were audiobooks. On average, Canadian audiobook borrowers borrowed two audiobooks in a single month.

According to the Audio Publishers Association audiobooks sales recorded double-digit increase in 2021. The 28 member companies reporting to the APA had revenue gains of 25% in 2021 bringing the estimated industry total to $1.6 billion in sales last year. This 2021 jump bested a sales increase of 12% in 2020. The number of audiobook titles published in 2021 was also up, to nearly 74,000 titles, representing a 6% increase over 2020’s output. Based on percentage of sales, the science fiction and fantasy genre was most popular category, with mysteries/thrillers/suspense a close second. The romance category experienced the largest sales increase in the year with a 75% jump in revenues.

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