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Survey Shows Slowdown In Audiobook Sales Growth, But Listeners Are More Avid: The Self-Publishing News Podcast With Dan Holloway

Survey Shows Slowdown in Audiobook Sales Growth, but Listeners Are More Avid: The Self-Publishing News Podcast with Dan Holloway

In this episode of the Self-Publishing News Podcast, Dan Holloway discusses new surveys showing a slowdown in audiobook sales growth but an increase in listener engagement. He highlights the Independent Book Publishers Association's Innovative Voices program, offering support to publishers from marginalized communities. Dan also covers Google's recent challenges with SEO practices and piracy issues.

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About the Host

Dan Holloway is a novelist, poet, and spoken word artist. He is the MC of the performance arts show The New Libertines, He competed at the National Poetry Slam final at the Royal Albert Hall. His latest collection, The Transparency of Sutures, is available on Kindle.

Read the Transcripts to Self-Publishing News: Audiobook Sales Growth

Dan Holloway: Hello and welcome to another Self-Publishing News from here in Oxford where it's the final week of term. Exams are in full swing, people are punting, punters are peopling, and everyone is getting ready for tourists to descend for the summer as the students depart, hopefully with some pleasant exam results behind them and their futures ahead of them.

Audiobook Sales Revenue Growth Slows as Listening Percentage Increases

Various interesting stories this week, some fascinating surveys, which we rounded off last week, that it would be really interesting to, to have a little think about.

We're used to hearing about the annual Audio Publishers Association surveys about reading habits, and in particular the reading or listening habits of Americans with audiobooks.

For the last 11 years, we have reported on double digit growth in the sales revenue from audiobooks. This year, for the first time in 12 years, we are no longer able to do so because the audiobooks consumer survey suggests that income rose only by 9% to a, still not insubstantial, $2 billion.

The growth that we all knew was unsustainable is indeed not being sustained.

But one of the things that's really interesting that comes as a comparison piece to that is the Consumer Habits Survey. This, again, suggests things are tailing off in terms of new audiences. The number of people who listen to at least one audiobook has risen. It's risen slightly from 35% to 38%.

A figure that really came out to me was the number of titles people are reading, and that has increased from 4 per year. So, people who'd listened to an audiobook tended to listen to four of them in 2022. In 2023, that had risen to 4.8. That's a 20% rise, basically from four books to five books a year. That suggests that people are getting more used to reading more through audio, or that they're getting more avid, or maybe this reflects the growth in subscription and the fact that it's readily available more, especially since Spotify entered the market. So, it's just easier to listen to audiobooks than it was, and therefore people are doing it more.

Either way, it does seem that for all that we no longer have double digit growth, we nonetheless have a very healthy position, and we have a healthy position in which there are lots of fans. Fans who really do want to read, and read a lot in an audio format.

So, that's one set of surveys.

YouTube Overtakes TikTok as Top Source of Revenue for Influencers

Another really interesting survey by the producer Epidemic Sound into the state of online creators. What online creators are doing. In particular, online social media creators, but these are people who create in all forms for social media; whether that's writing music, video.

I would very much recommend that you go and check out the whole survey. There are some fascinating things there.

Interestingly, YouTube is now the top source of revenue for influencers, that's overtaken TikTok. So, that maybe speaks to some of the things we've been talking about, with whether or not TikTok is going to make a viable future for people who are looking to promote via social media, and shows obviously the power of maybe the longer form video.

Large Portion of Social Media Creators Stop Using AI

But what's really interesting is what the survey says about the use of AI. What it shows is that while it's still very prevalent, some forms of AI have in 2023 not been as prevalent as they were before. So chatbot usage, for example decreased, it basically almost halved from 56% to 32%.

The rationale that people are giving around using it slightly less seems to be around originality and authenticity. So, 38.5% of creators expressed a worry about originality, and almost half suggested concerns about quality.

So, plagiarism was still considered important. A third talked about plagiarism worries, but they're clearly worried that it's just not doing the job for them. It's not reflecting what they want to say, and they're realizing that actually, to reflect what they want to say, they are best off creating the content for themselves.

So, that's an interesting thing to read alongside everything we read about how AI is taking over the world and you can't get anywhere without doing AI this and AI that. A little bit of positivity for human creativity.

IBPA Launches Second Innovative Voices Program for Indie Publishers

Talking of human creativity, I would like to draw your attention to one of the first stories we ran this week, which is the Independent Book Publishers Association. It's the deadline on June the 16th for its second Innovative Voices program, which supports publishers from marginalized communities, and by publishers, they seem, as indeed they often do, to include indie publishers. So, you have to have a publishing company, but if the publishing company is set up mainly to publish your work, then that doesn't seem to be a barrier to eligibility. So, that's really encouraging.

Some great things on offer are cash, which obviously anyone publishing could do with; $750 and print costs for $250. Really worth giving it a go.

Google Under Fire Over Data Leaks and Advertising Pirated Books

What else has been going on this week? Google have had a bad week, haven't they?

Last week, of course, we were reading a lot about their leak. So, this is the leak of two and a half thousand internal memos and documents and emails about their search engine optimization algorithms, and they seemed to suggest quite heavily that many of the things Google have been telling us for years they don't do, they actually do.

Many of the things that SEO gurus have been telling us they do; they actually don't do. Experts are all over this, of course, as they would be, seeking to make a quick buck out of it on the usual principle of in a gold rush sell shovels. I recommend, obviously, that you read what you can on the subject, but read it with caution and read it filtered through the lens of your own expertise.

Nonetheless, some of the things that Google is doing, it is worth looking at. They are clearly looking at people's clicks, they're looking at what people do in Chrome. Interestingly, one of the things I've come across people saying they're not doing, and it's very clear from this, is they are not basing your ranking upon how frequently or how recently you're creating content.

Websites that aren't updated very often but have a lot of really solid content that does the job in terms of providing value, that seems to be driving rankings more than regularly updating what you have to say or trying to keep on top of the latest trends. So, that's always interesting.

To get really book specific, the other thing that Google have had a really bad week on, of course, is they have been taken to court by publishers who want them to stop advertising pirated copies of their books. So, this is what Google have been doing. They have been advertising plagiarized copies of textbooks in particular. Publishers have been sending them takedown notices, and Google have been ignoring them, and in some cases, they've been telling the publishers to go away, and not answering publishers’ emails anymore because they think they're harassing them, when actually all they're trying to do is, say, maybe don't advertise plagiarists and pirates.

Yeah, Google not necessarily having the greatest of weeks, but talking of textbooks, that is a suitable way to bring us back to our students here in Oxford who are doing exams. Of course, they wouldn't dream of doing it with plagiarized textbooks or with AI and so best of luck to them doing it naturally. As a weightlifter and a bodybuilder, it's part of the scene to say, oh, is that person natural? And it feels like this is where we're going with content creation and students. Are they natural? Of course they are, just as all bodybuilders are.

On that bombshell, I will leave you and look forward to speaking to you next week from what looks like it might be a very thundery Oxford.

So, a very happy summer to you all.

Author: Howard Lovy

Howard Lovy is an author, book editor, and journalist. He is also the Content and Communications Manager for the Alliance of Independent Authors, where he hosts and produces podcasts and keeps the blog updated. You can find more of his work at https://howardlovy.com/


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