Speaking of Audiobooks: A Simple Audio Survey

The world’s a changing as we all know and one of the most noticeable areas is publishing and the challenge of digital versus paper.  Or in the audiobook industry – digital versus hard copy CDs.

Personally, my love of audiobooks and reliance on them as a form of entertainment drastically changed seven years ago when my daughter presented me with an iPod and told me there was a much easier way to listen to audiobooks.  It’s all digital for me now, even if it means I must convert a CD to a digital file for final listening.  And purchasing digitally also means I listen to more audiobooks.  Having something only a click away can be good for the soul (but possibly bad for the budget).

However, I know through communicating personally with listeners, as well as reading comments both here at Speaking of Audiobooks and at our Goodreads group, that many rely on (and often prefer) hard copies for their listening.

Libraries play a strong role in hard copy listening as well with many of our listeners planning ahead for the newest releases or looking beyond their local library for borrowing.  Digital lending is on the increase as well.

Whether you listen to one audiobook a year or ten a month, please take our short survey and tell us where do you obtain your books and what do you listen to?

– Lea Hensley

What is your primary source for listening?

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If you purchase hard copies, do you primarily buy CDs or MP3 CDs?

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If your library is one of the sources you use for listening, what percentage of your audiobooks do you find there?

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Approximately, how many audiobooks do you listen to a year?

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Do you tend to buy/listen to titles within a year of their production or newly discovered titles no matter their release date?

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What grouping of audiobooks do you listen to the most?

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26 Responses to “Speaking of Audiobooks: A Simple Audio Survey”

  1. louiseaar says:

    I voted that I listened to Fantasy/paranormal romances most, but really that isn’t a conscious decision. From my experience, those seem to be the ones that are turned into audio books the most. I have a few historical romance audios in my collection (mostly Julia Quinn and Lynn Kurland), but I would have more if more of my favorites were turned into audios. It just so happens that my favorite paranormals/fantasy books were made into audios and that is why they make up the majority of my collection.

    I love my audio books. My iPod is as indepensable to me as my Kindle! :)

  2. Lea Hensley says:

    Although I voted for Historical Romance as my most read group, I’m like you Louise – that doesn’t mean it is my favorite. My first preference is Contemporary/Romantic Suspense but not enough of those are produced that are to my particular reading/listening tastes.

    On the other hand, I’m thrilled at the recent increase in Historicals with decent narrators. My first love of romance is Historical although my preferences have changed since those early days.

    There does seem to be a tendency by audio production companies to choose more fantasy/paranormal titles. I don’t know if that is reflective of what sells the most in the romance genre period or if those books are chosen since they also fit another category for sales purposes…i.e. urban fantasy romance also sells as urban fantasy.

  3. Karen White says:

    Most of my purchases are for family listening, to share with my two tween girls. (So not too much romance there!) As my younger daughter is a frequent re-listener, we don’t buy that many.
    We used to borrow from the library a great deal, but the supply seems diminished in the past few years.

  4. Dorothy says:

    I love audiobooks. I guess you didn’t want to know all my bad habits! You didn’t have an ‘I would beg, borrow, or steal!’ category :-)

  5. Carrie says:

    I get audiobooks from the library when they’re available (I never buy anything they have a copy of, in other words), but I still end up getting the majority of my audiobooks from audible. I’ve occasionally downloaded some from Tantor directly.

    I wasn’t sure how my statistics would fall out, so I went back and counted the books I’d listened to in the past year:
    Historicals- 24
    PNR/fantasy/sci-fi- 20
    Contemp/RS- 30

    A couple of historicals and contemps were relistens, but overall I seem to spread out my listening fairly evenly. Hmmm, I voted 25-50 audiobooks a year, but I seem to have under-estimated!

  6. LeeF says:

    Until a few months ago, I had never bought an audiobook so have been limited by what my local libraries carried. I really prefer CD format but can’t afford it (and apparently neither can my small local library since I have pretty much run through their selection). Thanks to this column (and Lea’s help), I have been buying from audible.com and downloading to my Ipod. Other than being overwhelmed by choices (and too tempted by sales) I have enjoyed it so far.

    • Lea Hensley says:

      LeeF: Until a few months ago, I had never bought an audiobook so have been limited by what my local libraries carried. I really prefer CD format but can’t afford it (and apparently neither can my small local library since I have pretty much run through their selection). Thanks to this column (and Lea’s help), I have been buying from audible.com and downloading to my Ipod. Other than being overwhelmed by choices (and too tempted by sales) I have enjoyed it so far.

      So good to hear we got you going on Audible! Those sales can get you. I’ll think I have just about all the older titles I want and then they’ll run another fantastic sale and I find more. Just purchased 5 “first in a series” for $4.99 each. Great deal plus I find myself expanding my preferences.

  7. Melanie says:

    I listen to over 100 per year, and probably 95% are from my library (I have a great city and a really great county library available) via digital downloads. I tend to only check out physical CDs when it’s a very new release – hot titles sometimes reach the physical collection sooner than the digital collection.

    • Lea Hensley says:

      Melanie: I listen to over 100 per year, and probably 95% are from my library (I have a great city and a really great county library available) via digital downloads. I tend to only check out physical CDs when it’s a very new release – hot titles sometimes reach the physical collection sooner than the digital collection.

      If only! My library is severely lacking – at least with romance titles. But I admit that I have given up and haven’t looked in the last year.

      So, what device do you use to listen to your library’s digital books? Last I checked, my library’s digital titles were not compatible with my iPod.

  8. Benoibe says:

    Just saying hi. Interesting to see poll results. I would have guessed historical romance was the favorite. I voted for romantic suspense, but I realized I have listened to nearly every historical available (exaggeration). I wanted to speak up. I listen to a wide variety, as I think many do. Anyway, love this site.

  9. Maria D. says:

    I just want to clarify my votes a bit because a couple of more options would have nailed everything for me. I purchase in mp3 only but from the library I get both mp3 and cd’s. I tend to do a 50/50 split between purchase and borrow too.

    It’s kind of funny because I only started listening to audio books last year and I’m really enjoying it so far:)

  10. willaful says:

    I voted for contemporary & romantic suspense, because that’s what I can find at the library. It’s increasingly difficult to find mp3s — almost everything at Overdrive is in WMA format now.

  11. BevQB says:

    When there’s a book I want to listen to, I first check for library downloads- I’m a member of three different library systems from extensive down to puny- and if I can’t find them there, then I start shopping by price (assuming it’s a worth-buying, must-have book). I check Audible, of course, but also I’ll buy a hard copy from Amazon if they have the best price whether it be CD or MP3CD (which is never consistent).

    Even though I mostly read UF/F/PNR (and usually in print), I absolutely adore listening to historicals in audio format. My midwestern “reading accent” lends itself well to the former, but the latter loses quite a bit of character and feels a bit watered down without the appropriate (usually English or Scottish) accents. I’m not much of a fan of contemporaries so what few comtemps interest me, I usually just read through in print.

    • Lea Hensley says:

      BevQB: When there’s a book I want to listen to, I first check for library downloads- I’m a member of three different library systems from extensive down to puny- and if I can’t find them there, then I start shopping by price (assuming it’s a worth-buying, must-have book). I check Audible, of course, but also I’ll buy a hard copy from Amazon if they have the best price whether it be CD or MP3CD (which is never consistent).Even though I mostly read UF/F/PNR (and usually in print), I absolutely adore listening to historicals in audio format. My midwestern “reading accent” lends itself well to the former, but the latter loses quite a bit of character and feels a bit watered down without the appropriate (usually English or Scottish) accents. I’m not much of a fan of contemporaries so what few comtemps interest me, I usually just read through in print.

      I’m so with you on your midwestern accent. It is hard for me to imagine English and Scottish accents and therefore, I find myself more entertained by the narration (well, if it is a narrator I like).

      I’m assuming that you are pretty savvy when it comes to changing format – CDs to digital. I have the basics down now but it took me a while to learn from a patient teacher. Teaching others the basics would make a great column but I’d need to understand all the legalities first.

    • Lea Hensley says:

      BevQB: If interested, please contact me through my AAR Meet Lea Hensley page (click the little mailbox). http://likesbooks.com/leaprofile.html

      BevBQ – you are another listener who I’d like to talk with further when I feature library rentals. If you are interested in participating, could you contact me? Best through my AAR Meet Lea Hensley page (click the little mailbox). http://likesbooks.com/leaprofile.html

      Thanks!

  12. Brandy says:

    I think the first question in the survey may need soe clarification. For instance, I get my audiobooks from the library, but I download them onto my mp3 player. So I’m a download-able format kind of girl and I rarely listen to hardcopies. Maybe adding a question for library users regarding their format of choice: hard copy/download?

    • Lea Hensley says:

      Brandy: I think the first question in the survey may need soe clarification.For instance, I get my audiobooks from the library, but I download them onto my mp3 player.So I’m a download-able format kind of girl and I rarely listen to hardcopies.Maybe adding a question for library users regarding their format of choice: hard copy/download?

      I thought about this while writing the survey. For the purposes of the survey, I think it would be best to go with the library choice. However, after seeing this survey and these comments, I’ll conduct another survey soon on library usage. There is so much out there available to listeners for no cost. They just don’t know how to access it.

      Also, would you be available at a later date to tell us a little about your library usage? I’d contact you when writing to get your input.

      If interested, please contact me through my AAR Meet Lea Hensley page (click the little mailbox). http://likesbooks.com/leaprofile.html

  13. Kathy W. says:

    I ended up not answering the survey because the first question didn’t cover the option I use – booksfree.com. I select the hard CD format because I only listen in the car during my 20-25 minute each way commute. It did take quite awhile for me to finish my most recent 26 CD selection (a record number of CD’s) – Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norell. I listen to mostly historical romances, but adore the recommendations from this site – and have expanded into mysteries and biographies. I listened to Anne Flosnick’s personal favorite – Wait for Me! and loved it as much as she said I would.

    • Lea Hensley says:

      Kathy W.: I ended up not answering the survey because the first question didn’t cover the option I use – booksfree.com.I select the hard CD format because I only listen in the car during my 20-25 minute each way commute.It did take quite awhile for me to finish my most recent 26 CD selection (a record number of CD’s) – Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norell.I listen to mostly historical romances, but adore the recommendations from this site – and have expanded into mysteries and biographies.I listened to Anne Flosnick’s personal favorite – Wait for Me! and loved it as much as she said I would.

      Thank you for letting us know about booksfree.com. I briefly considered rental as an option but with the passage of Recorded Books rental program, I didn’t know there was much to choose from out there. This looks like a great site. Thanks again!

      Glad to hear you are finding recommendations here. That’s what we hope to hear! I haven’t tried Wait for Me but thinking about it.

  14. Kaetrin says:

    The truth is, most of my audiobooks are for reviews now! My husband and son have mostly taken over my Audible account these days because I barely have time to listen to new books. I have so many on my TBL anyway, I’m not short of choice.

    I wasn’t sure what to put regarding contemporary/RS, PNR/UF, historical. It’s probably closer to an even mix of all 3, but I chose the first category because it was easier :)

  15. Iris says:

    Well, I don’t have as much time to listen to audio books as I would wish – there are too many books only available in print. So I choose carefully. This also allows me to buy in mp3 CD format.

    I was once an audible customer but being in Germany severely restricts my choices from them. Besides, I don’t trust DRM, and it annoys me to no end to burn the files first in wav and the convert to mp3.

    Therefore, mp3 CDs it is, converted by Chapter & Verse into nice books for my ipod.

  16. Jo-Ann W. says:

    Like Brandy, I get most of my audios from the library but I download them. It so convenient and the selection is very good. In fact, it’s so good, I didn’t renew my Audible membership since I actually had trouble using up all the credits I had (still sitting on 5 out of hte 24). I ended up using the credits on books I had to own for the most part. Surprisingly, as of yet, there aren’t that many in that category!

  17. LeeF says:

    Lea,
    Yes, those audible sales are a bit overwhelming. I wanted about ten titles on this latest one but bit the reality bullet and only bought Outlander- hard to beat for $5!

  18. luluwrites says:

    I’m glad to know I’m not the only person who feels like they may be personally responsible for keeping Audible in business. I am embarrassed to say how many books I have bought over the last four years. I buy up extra credits every chance I get. It is just so easy. I love the Audible app on my iphone, but it makes buying books even easier, which isn’t really a good thing. Fortunately reading is my primary vice, so I don’t feel too guilty that all of my “pin” money goes there. I’ve bought digital downloads on Tantor, Barnes & Noble, Borders and Books on Board, but the “Overdrive” software isn’t nearly as user friendly as Audible. I just noticed that AudioGo now has digital downloads available and Blackstone Audio allows digital downloads of some books as individual apps for iphones or ipads. Now that there are multiple options for digital downloads I have started comparison shopping. I doubt if my audio book appetite will reduce anytime soon, but I will certainly be price shopping more. Tantor especially has had some great sales. I am glad to see publishers themselves offering their books digitally.

    Recorded Books had a great lending program. For a set monthly charge in the $25-40 range you could get as many audio books a month as you could rip and return. I built up a large library, mainly longer, more expensive audio books I was never sure how they made money with this program. They recently sold the rights to SimplyAudiobooks and they just don’t have the library of unabridged audio books that Recorded Books did. And SimplyAudiobooks digital downloads are way over priced.

    It seems to me like there are far more paranormal/fantasy audio books published than any other romance genre. And with a few exceptions, I have no interest in them, so it can be frustrating. But what the survey didn’t ask about was other genres. I assume most readers are like me and read a mix of genres, both fiction and non-fiction. I find that libraries are more reliable sources for history, biography, contemporary fiction etc. So I do get a good portion of my audio books from the library then rip them to my computer to convert. But only a small percentage are romance.

    Biggest issue with libraries is quality. About 25% of the books I bring home have one or two discs that are badly damaged.

  19. Melissa B says:

    I buy MP3 only ~ and as of right now, I buy only. I have yet to check out what my library has ~ although I’m hearing that I’m totally missing out, so it’s something I’m missing out on. Last year, I bought 102 audio books ~~ this year, I’ve already bought 21 ~ I haven’t listened to them all yet, but typically I’ll listen to at least 2 a week. I tend to buy heavily in romantic suspense, and PNR and UF romance.

  20. Melissa B says:

    Oh, and just let me say…YES those sales at Audible get me…I wound up buying 15 totaly on that $5 sale, lol, then got the 3 for 2 credits on Valentines day, and again the other day. I’m terribly addicted…and have bought exclusively from Audible until last month, when I purchased my first books straight from Tantor when they were having a huge sale, and I bought 4 books from them…but haven’t listened yet. The ease of Audible w/ all my devices and my Amazon account is so hard to resist, I love it.