Study shows audiobooks have become a convenient alternative to print and ebooks


CLEVELAND April 16, 2019 – A study released today by Rakuten OverDrive, the leading digital reading platform for libraries worldwide, reveals that technology has helped Americans find more opportunities to consume books. The shift towards digital content has allowed readers to continue to enjoy books anytime, anywhere on any device – even despite constant demands for attention from the outside world. The study found that over the past year, 43 percent of respondents have read ebooks and 34 percent of respondents have listened to audiobooks – and 87 percent of those respondents are consuming audiobooks while doing other activities.

Audiobooks are an immersive format that can be seamlessly integrated into everyday activities. The study found that more than half of audiobook consumers are listening while completing tasks around the house such as cooking and cleaning. Approximately 40 percent of audiobook listeners are driving, exercising or working on a hobby. The study also shows that millennials (ages 23-38) and adult members of Gen Z (ages 18-22) are driving the audiobook market with 48 percent selecting an audiobook while 24 percent of the Gen Xers and Baby Boomers utilize this digital technology to read.

“It’s not shocking that people are drawn to audiobooks – they’re easy to use, engaging and allow listeners to fit reading into our fast-paced lives,” said Steve Potash, founder and CEO of OverDrive. “Within North American libraries alone, audiobook checkouts have more than doubled since 2013, growing at least 24 percent each year. Looking at this continuous growth, it’s apparent that technology hasn’t hindered a good story, only enhanced it. As more individuals are introduced to the power of audiobooks, we’ll continue to see digital reading grow in a variety of formats for years to come.”

Libraries have been able to become so technologically advanced that they’ve played a role in the evolution of Americans’ book consumption, with many consumers turning to their community institution as their main source for ebooks, e-magazines and audiobooks. The study found that more than 33 percentage of audiobook listeners borrow e-audiobooks from libraries and most do so because it’s cost-effective, they like to support their local library and digital reading apps allow them to borrow books at any time.

The survey was conducted using an online panel in February 2019. For more information about the study, contact Andi Barnett (


About Rakuten OverDrive

Rakuten OverDrive is the leading digital reading platform for libraries and schools worldwide. We are dedicated to “a world enlightened by reading” by delivering the industry’s largest catalog of ebooks, audiobooks, magazines and other digital media to a growing network of 43,000 libraries and schools in 76 countries. Named one of TIME’s Best iPhone and Android Apps of 2018, Libby is the “one-tap reading app” for libraries. Founded in 1986, OverDrive is based in Cleveland, Ohio USA and owned by Tokyo-based Rakuten.

David Burleigh
Director of Brand & Marketing Communications