The audiobook gained 800,000 new users in 2021

For 12 years, three organizations, SOFIA -managed equally by authors and publishers-, the Syndicat National de l’Édition (SNE) and the Société des Gens de Lettres (SGDL), have been developing a Barometer on the use of digital and audio books. The objective: to provide, each year, additional information on the sales figures on the qualification, uses and practices of the readers.

If in 2021 the barometer data had been greatly affected by the pandemic, this year the slow acclimatization of society to COVID-19 makes it possible for certain practices to become permanent. The use of audiobooks, in particular: the digital audiobook thus experienced significant growth in 2021 with 800,000 new users.

From physical audiobook to digital audiobook

Who reads and in what medium? The printed book is mainly acclaimed for the ” average readers (5 to 19 books per year) with 45% use, compared to 25% of great readers (20 pounds per year and more). The study has a total of 47.7 million print book readers, down slightly from last year (48 million).

All reading media combined, are the new uses and practices that prevail this year: 25% of French people aged 15 and over have already read a digital book, 15% of them have already listened to a physical audiobook and 12 % a digital audiobook. These are also the ” little readers » (less than 5 books a year) who acclaim, at 50% use, the digital audiobook, compared to 15% of heavy readers. The study also notes that audiobooks, physical and digital, tend to attract male readers.

According to the barometer, only 52% (-5 pts) of physical audiobook listeners listened to one less than a year ago: “ This likely reflects the beginning of a real shift from physical audiobooks to digital audiobooks. »

The reading habits and practices adopted in 2020, during the pandemic, therefore seem to be maintained, and even intensified for audiobooks: 41% of listeners of digital audiobooks listen to them once a week or a month (+7 points) . The study counts 6.6 million listeners of digital audiobooks, a figure, therefore, on the rise.

Content, purchases and digital media

As for the places where reading materials are purchased, supermarkets specializing in printed books predominate: 72% of respondents obtained them from these places, compared to 66% from bookstores and 46% from merchant websites. For physical audiobooks, purchasing practices are more balanced in diversity, with around 55% of respondents practicing in each of the three locations.

The study also highlights the new impact of the Cultural Pass: 40% of readers aged 15 to 24 used the Pass to buy print books, 41% for digital books and 54% for digital audiobooks.

Legal downloading (paid or free) remains the priority method for digital book readers. Among the latter, 65% say they download legally and pay (+8 points).

In which media do you read or listen to audio and digital books? Mainly on the smartphone: 48% of digital books are read on the phone, compared to only 26% on the electronic reader: the barometer registers a drop of 2 points. 64% of digital audiobooks are listened to on phones and 54% of physical audiobooks are read on laptops.

The purchase of new books is the main method of obtaining printed books (95% of those surveyed) and physical audiobooks (62%), as well as library loans, which registered an increase of 5 points.

Finally, regarding the content of the book, literature continues to be privileged: it is the most read category by 91% of readers of printed books and 83% of readers of digital books. Additionally, digital audiobook users prefer platform subscription systems: 31% of listeners subscribe to at least one platform.

This survey on the uses of print, digital and audiobooks was conducted by Médiamétrie, between January 10 and 14, 2022 for the scoping study to measure the penetration and profile of readers (1997 telephone survey Français de 15 years and over) and between January 20 and February 4, 2022 for the in-depth study of the behavior and expectations of readers (online survey of 3,002 Internet users aged 15 and over).

The 2022 barometer is available below:

Credits: Pexels / Uriel Mont

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