Fewer Commuters Kills Audiobook Sales

The Los Angeles Times reports that revenue from audiobooks sales has plummeted 47% this year as a result of unemployment…not because people have less to spend (though that's part of it) but because they aren't commuting.

The fewer people who work, the fewer people who drive to work. More than half of audio customers listen in their cars, said Chris Lynch, executive vice president and publisher of Simon & Schuster Audio.
[…]"We got hit pretty badly last summer when gasoline prices were so high," Lynch says. "And then the stock market crashed in the fall and we got hit again."

4 thoughts on “Fewer Commuters Kills Audiobook Sales”

  1. Well, charging 40 or 50 bucks for an audio book probably makes it a price sensitive product, no doubt, especially when you can just pick up the book for less than half that cost… and read it on the sofa while waiting for unemployment checks. Ouch.

  2. I hadn’t bought audiobooks in years and happened to be looking at some the other day and was surprised to see how much they cost.
    $50?? No thanks. Unless you’re downloading them with an Audible.com subscription, they’re too damn expensive.

  3. I’ve moved to audiobooks heavily over the past few years (there’s an hour of listening time each day while I’m exercising), but I’m not sure I’ve bought a single new retail-price audiobook. Between free downloads from the library, free downloads of public domain books from http://librivox.org , borrowed CDs from the library, remaindered CD books, library used book sales, there’s plenty to listen to at more like a buck an hour or less (and that’s without being willing to indulge in piracy). An audiobook doesn’t invite relistening the way that print invites rereading, so the standard price is hard to justify, and with such a limited election of print works available in audio form, it’s not like you’re paying to get exactly the thing you want.


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