The 12ᵉ survey on the uses of books points to the rise of audiobooks

France has 47.7 million readers of print books, 13.5 million digital books, 7.9 million physical audiobooks and 6.6 million digital audiobooks, according to the 12Y survey on the uses of buying and reading books. This annual barometer made public on Friday, April 22, within the framework of the Paris Book Festival, by the French Society for the Interests of Written Authors (Sofia), the National Union of Publishers (SNE) and the Society of People of Letters (SGDL)” aims to be a tool for reflection on the changes in the ecosystem of the book chain “, to remember Cecile Deniard, the president of Sofia. Integrating audiobooks since 2019, it highlights the emergence of an additional 800,000 digital audiobook listeners over the past year.

Still according to the barometer, a quarter of French people aged 15 or over have already read a digital book. 15% of them have already listened to a physical audiobook. 12% of them have already listened to a digital audiobook. ” There is an overrepresentation of male and young listeners for audiobooks (digital and physical) », highlighted Bertrand Lissillourdirector of studies and clientele at Médiamétrie, the audience measurement company that carried out the two surveys to establish the barometer.

Who reads in what medium?

A quarter of print book readers are avid readers (+20 books/year). 45% belong to the “average readers” (5 to 19 books/year). And 30% are “little readers” (- 5 books/year).

For digital books, 22% of the readers of this medium are inveterate readers (+2 points compared to 2021), 37% are regular readers (+4 pts) and 41% are occasional readers (-6 pts).

In the case of physical audiobooks, 18% of the listeners of this medium are inveterate readers (+7 pts), 34% are regular readers (+6 pts) while 48% are occasional readers (-14 pts) .

In the digital audiobook category, 15% of listeners are heavy readers, 35% are “average readers” (+7 pts), and half are “low readers” (-7 pts).

The barometer establishes a correlation between the decrease in the number of young readers who use digital books, physical books and digital audiobooks and the increase in the use of these 3 media among “average readers”. The decrease would be in favor of an increase in the number of medium and heavy readers.

reading practice

3.7 million readers used all four media to read or listen to a book. ” The audiobook continues to be a complementary practice to the practice of classical reading “explain Valery Levy Soussanpresident of the “audiobooks” commission of the National Union of Publishers (SNE).

Respondents believe that reading is above all a pleasure activity (80%, all media together). For printed books, it is the pleasure, the relaxing side and its universal form that returns to the impressions of the readers. For digital books, it is modernity, innovation, practicality and its ecological image. The digital audiobook is strongly tied to notions of parenthood and practicality, often heard in the car with children.

30% of eBook readers report having read more books than before. So do listeners of physical (20%) and digital (27%) audiobooks. However, figures are not provided for readers of print books.

reading equipment

The smartphone is the preferred medium for reading digital books against the tablet and the reader. The laptop is the preferred equipment for listening to physical audiobooks (CDs). Finally, the smartphone returns as the preferred way to listen to digital audiobooks, versus the laptop and digital tablet. 64% of digital audiobook listeners say they use their mobile phone to listen to them (+12 points compared to 2021).

Acquisition of books

Purchasing new books remains the reported preferred method of obtaining books in print, with 95% of print readers reporting purchasing a new print work. 66% of them said that they had bought second-hand. Half of them borrowed from the library.

62% of audiobook listeners said they resorted to buying new books. Nearly half (47%) borrow them from the library.

In the case of digital books, 69% of the readers of this medium state that they have acquired their work for free and legally. 59% for digital audiobook listeners. 61% of digital book readers say they have downloaded and paid for their digital book. 31% have borrowed it from the library. While 41% of digital audiobook listeners said they borrow their books.

Another finding is that more books have been bought in the last year, all media combined. The number of readers who bought more than 5 books in the year is also increasing. Valery Levy Soussanpresident of the commission of ‘audiobooks’ of the SNE, recalled however that the number of readers had not progressed.

shopping places

Specialized supermarkets, and later bookstores, are the preferred outlets for readers and listeners, all media combined.

There is room for improvement in the subscription formulas of digital platforms “, specified Valéry Lévy-Soussan. 31% of digital audiobook listeners said they subscribe to at least one site. Library lending is still a common practice, as seen above.

books content

In the end, the most important thing, what unites readers and listeners the most, is still literature, the most widely read category. “explain Mary Louise Aubert, media analyst. 91% of print book readers, 83% of e-book readers, 73% of physical audiobook listeners, and 83% of audiobook listeners. Then come the essays and documents, and the comic strip that attracted the most this year », specifies the analyst. (less than 5 books/year), average readers (from 5 to 19 books/year) and intensive readers (+ than 20 books/year).

the 12Y The Sofia/SNE/SGDL barometer was performed in two stages:

– a telephone survey was carried out between January 10 and 14, 2022 on an initial sample of 1,997 French people aged 15 and over to establish profiles, in particular according to the volume of books read;

– a second survey, carried out online with 3,002 Internet users aged 15 or over between January 20 and February 4, 2022, made it possible to identify the uses and expectations of readers.

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