The 2019 edition of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair provided an occasion to delve into the audiobooks world, thanks to an official survey dedicated to the sector and its growth at international level. The survey, promoted by APA – American Publishers Association, was discussed during Listen Up!“, the conference on the world of audiobooks organized in collaboration with Bookrepublic.

The survey and the related discussion focused on two main points: the opportunities that this new publishing segment is bringing to the global market, and the geography of these markets, moving from countries where audio content is already a practice consolidated, to those in the process of consolidation as well as emerging nations.

Until recently, in fact, audio contents constituted a niche reserved mostly to well-defined audiences, such as people with visual disabilities and children not yet in reading age. The development of certain consumer technology has certainly contributed to break up the niche, with the ever increasing pervasiveness of devices such as smartphones or tablets in our lives, and the consequent consumption of electronic content of all kinds in their digital version, ebooks and music in format MP3.

However, among all the digital content available, the audio ones showed a very rapid growth: the demand for costant new contents, mainly in audiobook and podcast format, met on one side an already good offer, on the other the availability of many international players willing to invest in real ad hoc productions.

Currently, there are three areas of interest in terms of market size, sales rate and investments: the United States, the Scandinavian countries and China. In all three countries, in fact, the market continues to accelerate, attracting a young audience (under 45) that makes the smartphone its main tool, at ease between streaming content platforms and subscriptions.

Among the developing markets, France and Russia stand out, with an increasing size of catalogs available to users, if not even the presence of many players, as happens in Russia; among emerging markets, on the other hand, we find Italy, Spain and India, a country in which, despite the daily difficulties of civil society, the possession of a smartphone is increasingly frequent and the contents are enjoyed both in local languages and in English.

Therefore, global development is only at the beginning. The production of devices and content seems to run in a parallel way and more and more listeners are looking for audio content to fill their lives with.