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The Great Audiobook Survey: The Results

Rebecca Joines Schinsky

Chief of Staff

Rebecca Joines Schinsky is the executive director of product and ecommerce at Riot New Media Group. She co-hosts All the Books! and the Book Riot Podcast. Follow her on Twitter: @rebeccaschinsky.

In our latest reader poll, we asked all about your audiobook habits. 1059 Riot readers answered the call. Here’s a look at the numbers. I’ve offered some commentary and interpretation. What do you make of the data?

Have you ever listened to an audiobook?

1030 responses

ever listened audiobook

Yes: 993

No: 37

This is not terribly surprising, but it is also not likely representative of Book Riot’s general readership. The people most likely to opt into a survey about audiobook habits are those who *have* audiobook habits.

Have you listened to any audiobooks in 2014?

1041 responses

audiobooks in 2014Yes: 934

No: 107

This is also not surprising and also likely not representative because of the opt-in, self-report nature of survey. Note to self: include audiobook habits in the main reading habits survey next year to get a less biased sample.

About how many audiobooks do you listen to in a typical year?

1025 usable responses

Range: 0 – 442

audiobooks average

Mean: 17.5

Mode: 12

Median: 12

Here’s the full frequency distribution.

Audiobook Listening Scatterplot

Only 9 respondents (0.8%) reported listening to more than 100 audiobooks per year. Here’s the distribution without those outliers, which makes the spike at 12 audiobooks per year (one per month) more easily visible and shows the negative slope of the line: as the number of audiobooks per year increases, the amount of listeners who consume that number decreases.

Audiobook listening frequency without outliers


What is your preferred/primary audiobook format?

This was an open ended, write-in item. Respondents interpreted it many ways, and not all responses were specific to format. For example, many wrote in “Audible,” which is a source of audiobooks and provides them in multiple formats. For purposes of attempting to measure participants’ preferred audiobook formats, many answers (Audible, mp3s, apps) were transformed into one category called “digital.”

950 responses.

preferred audiobook formatThe breakdown, in descending order of popularity:

Digital: 714

CD: 180

Digital and CDs: 42

Anything/No Preference: 9

CDs & Cassette: 2

Cassette: 2

Digital & Cassette: 1

This is about what I expected to see given the makeup of Book Riot’s community. Most readers are 18-35 and relatively tech savvy. Additionally, technology for listening to audiobooks on the go, particularly for adapting smartphones to car stereos, is pretty good and pretty cheap these days, obviating a portion of the need for CDs. (Anecdotally, a handful of the respondents who said they preferred CDs explained that it was because they have a CD player in the car.)

Where do you get audiobooks?

This item was open-ended, allowing readers to enter any sources they wanted, and however many they wanted. After the survey closed, I identified the major response categories and coded answers into them. 361 readers (37%) reported getting audiobooks from multiple sources, so the total number of listed sources exceeds the number of respondents.

971 responses

audiobook sources

The breakdown, in descending order of popularity:

Library/Overdrive: 687

Audible: 494

Miscellaneous Online: 63 (This category is comprised of several sources that were each mentioned a few times, none mentioned enough to merit its own column, including HumbleBundle, Downpour,, and any entry that just said “internet” or “digital.”)

Bookstore/Brick-and-Mortar Retailer: 53 (Includes indie bookstores, chains, and big box retailers like Costco.)

iTunes: 32

Librivox: 26

Miscellaneous Offline: 26 (Like the Miscellaneous Online category, this includes several sources that each got a few mentions, including yard sales, borrowing from friends, mail from publishers.)

Amazon Products: 26 (Includes entries for Amazon, Kindle Unlimited, and Kindle text-to-speech)

Torrenting/Piracy/Illegal Downloads: 7 (Denotes respondents who specifically stated use of torrent and illegal services)

YouTube: 7

When the poll launched, a few readers suggested that we should also have asked participants about visual impairment, noting that data might be skewed if we didn’t know what drove respondents’ preference for and use of audiobooks. For purposes of this poll, we were interested in seeing the Book Riot community in aggregate, and we proceeded without that change. One reader noted Talking Books for the Blind as their source of audiobooks. This was included in the Miscellaneous Online category, as all audiobooks from this service are now digital.


That’s all I’ve got, folks. Thoughts, questions, anecdotes about how this matches up to your audiobook listening habits?

Check out other Riot polls:

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The 25 Most-Hated Books (by Book Riot Readers)

19 Books You’ve Been Meaning to Read FOREVER

20 Books You Pretend to Have Read

Top 10 Books You’re Embarrassed to Admit You’ve Read

20 Most-Loved Literary Characters

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20 Books You Love to Give as Gifts

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The Book Riot 2013 Reading Habits Survey

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