It’s Audiobook Month! Not Just for Drivers, says RH Campaign; Audible Ending Dollar Bounty Program

Audiobook sales, led by downloadable audio, have been on the rise in recent years, and June is audiobook month (who knew?), so this seems a good time for an update on this sector of publishing.

With nearly half of all audiobook buyers doing their listening while driving, Random House has launched an advertising campaign to promote the use of audiobooks outside the car, the New York Times reports.

The ads, running in print, online and on the radio, target consumers who engage in activities like knitting, exercising or traveling for business that lend themselves to listening to books.

Deciding what consumer groups to aim at came partly from identifying Web sites where consumers interested in activities like crafts or exercise also discussed audiobooks as a suitable accompaniment.

“We looked at who was chatting about audiobooks and how could we insert ourselves into that conversation,” said Heather Dalton, the director of marketing for Random House Audio.

In less happy audiobook news, Audible.com is ending the $1 per download author payment program it began last spring. The payments will continue through the end of this month. The Amazon-owned company established the program to give authors an incentive to make sure their books were available on Audible.com and to promote the audio titles. Authors who owned audio rights to titles that hadn’t been made into audiobooks were encouraged to use Amazon’s ACX service to get their books on audio.

Audiobooks are increasingly popular, according to the Audio Publishers Association, the trade association that long ago declared June to audiobook month. In the past, the high price and inconvenience (you could fill an SUV with the CDs required for some unabridged titles) limited the format’s popularity. Research results released by the APA earlier this year, show that 3.8 million audiobooks were sold in 2011 than in 2010, with sales revenues up 2.6%.

More significantly, digital downloads now account for over 60 percent of audiobooks sold and–with a younger, more affluent core audience–show the greatest potential for growth. From 2006 – 2011, revenues from downloadable audiobooks climbed 300%, according to APA figures. Those listeners want the whole book: 89% of audio revenues are from sales of unabridged editions.

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