Ah, June is here bringing with it warm weather to Cleveland (and, who knows, maybe another celestial phenomenon! We got lucky with that total solar eclipse in April and rare Northern Lights sighting in May).  

June is also the time when we turn our eyes (and ears!) to the wonderful world of audiobooks. These days, when convenience is king and multitasking is the norm, audiobooks have emerged as a popular format for both adults, teens, and children. And despite what some say, audiobooks absolutely count as reading. Neuroscientists at the University of California, Berkley found that people who listen to audiobooks process the information similarly to those who read the same materials, and according to a study by the National Literacy Trust, 61% of children and young adults surveyed said that listening to audiobooks helps them understand a subject.

Between now and June 30, libraries can save up to 50% on thousands of audiobooks for readers of all ages during our annual Audiobook Month Sale. Visit Marketplace to get started. 

Libraries can also save big on streaming video service Kanopy during June! Add Pay-Per-Use (PPU) and get the first full month free. Pay only for watched titles with consistent pricing that offers flexibility and control. 

Audiobook stats that speak volumes 

In addition to helping our library and academic partners save big, Audiobook Month also presents an opportunity for readers to find new audiobooks to love or explore the format for the first time. Over the past few years, audiobooks have undergone a remarkable evolution, steadily rising in popularity with each flip of the calendar. The statistics speak volumes: 

  • In their most recent annual consumer survey, the Audio Publishers Association found 46% of audiobook consumers say they borrowed a digital audiobook from a library in the last year. 
  • 38% of American adults listened to an audiobook in 2023, up from the 35% reported the previous year. 
  • According to Library Journal’s 2023 report Audiobooks and Public Libraries, digital audiobooks outpace and out-circulate physical audio for adults, teens, and children.  
  • The majority of libraries surveyed for the report have seen circulation increases for digital audio and decreases for physical audio. Many described the increase as “significant.”  
  • Libraries estimate that 25% of adult audiobook listeners exclusively listen to audiobooks while youth are more likely to borrow multiple formats. 

Audiobooks are popular at academic institutions as well. In 2023, academic libraries with OverDrive saw a 56% increase of audiobook circulation when compared to 2022. With audiobooks, college students can read on the go, easily fitting their studies in between course work, jobs, and extracurricular activities.  

Benefits of audiobooks 

In 2023, users borrowed 235 million audiobooks. That was a 23% increase compared to the previous year! Here are some of the top reasons listeners love audiobooks: 

  1. Accessibility Amplified

Audiobooks break down barriers to literacy by providing an inclusive reading experience for individuals with visual impairments or learning disabilities. With the power of narration, stories come alive, fostering a love of literature among diverse audiences. 

  1. Multitasking Magic

In our fast-paced world, audiobooks offer the ultimate convenience, allowing users to enjoy captivating narratives while commuting, exercising, or tackling household chores. With audiobooks, every moment becomes an opportunity to immerse oneself in the world of storytelling. 

  1. Enhanced Learning Opportunities

For academic libraries, audiobooks are invaluable educational tools, offering students a dynamic alternative to traditional text-based resources. From scholarly works to language learning materials, audiobooks enrich the academic experience and cater to diverse learning styles. 

  1. Cultivating Community

Audiobooks have the power to foster a sense of community within libraries, sparking lively discussions and shared experiences among patrons. Whether through book clubs, author readings, or collaborative listening sessions, audiobooks unite individuals in their passion for storytelling. 

Storytelling through sound 

For over a decade, audiobook publishers have seen growth year-over year. Between accessibility and inclusivity benefits, reaching reluctant and striving readers, and content created specifically for audio platforms, the popularity of the audiobook format isn’t slowing down anytime soon.  

Join us on June 11 at 2:00 pm ET for a free webinar on audiobook trends and titles you have to hear to believe. In a roundtable conversation, our panel of librarians will they share valuable insights about audiobooks, discuss content trends and favorite forthcoming titles, and more! Register today. 

Whether you’re a public library enriching the lives of your local community or an academic institution nurturing the minds of tomorrow, audiobooks offer boundless opportunities to educate, entertain, and inspire. So, let the pages turn and the stories unfold—because in the world of audiobooks, the adventure never ends. 

About the author: Jill Grunenwald is a Marketing & Communications Specialist on the North America Public Library Marketing Team. A former librarian, she joined OverDrive in 2015. Outside of the office she can be found writing, hanging out with her cats, collecting more Tarot decks than she has room for, and playing competitive pinball. Her favorite genre is something she calls “Murder at an educational institution that involves a close-knit group of suspicious characters.”