n 2016, audiobooks became the fastest-growing format in publishing.  Smartphones, tablets, smart-speakers and Bluetooth technologies have made audio content so ubiquitous, that we are now ravenously consuming audio content from music services to podcasts with tremendous rapidity.

In recent research by Skillsoft, learners ranked digital books as an essential part of their learning experience.  Over the past year, Skillsoft has partnered with leading audiobook publishers including: Recorded Books, Penguin Random House Audio, Brilliance Audio and Berrett-Koehler, to increase its collection of audiobooks by more than 60%.

Digital books ‘key to learning experience’

“Modern learners want the flexibility to access different types of learning content, whenever and wherever they are. While micro-learning is a key element of our content library, there is an overwhelming appetite for authoritative referencing alongside modern learning modalities,” said Mark Onisk, Chief Content Officer, Skillsoft.

The Audio Publishers Association (APA) estimates that last year (the third consecutive year of growth) audiobook sales totalled more than $2.1 billion. Meanwhile, the market has seen a steady rise in the number of audiobook titles available, with numbers rocketing from around 3,000 in 2007 to almost 51,000 in 2016.

So, who’s listening?

Just about Everyone. The graphic below cited in the 2017 APA Audiobook Survey illustrates the breakdown of audiobook listeners vs. the U.S. Population. Find out more by checking out this infographic.



Where and how are people tuning in to audiobooks?

Again, from their research, the APA found that a large majority listen at home, followed by in their car/truck.  While the device of choice is, not surprisingly, the smartphone, the desktop/laptop computer come in at a close second.

Obviously much of this ‘reading’ is for pleasure, and not necessarily part of a learning program; however the sheer popularity and convenience of this format means it would be short-sighted to overlook it as a learning asset.  We have experienced this before when similar macro trends, for example mobile and tablet computing, big data and analytics, as well as gamification, to name a few, profoundly influenced today’s L&D organizations.  We can therefore anticipate that audiobooks will represent the next wave of growth for L&D.

Audiobooks provide a fantastic opportunity for learning organizations to supply universally valued and trusted content to their learners at mass-scale.  Plus, given the growth in the consumer market, it will not require a “hard sell”; most learners will really appreciate the benefit of having audiobooks full stop, let alone having them integrated within a learning program.  (Think of the powerful benefit of providing a library of audiobooks to your entire workforce for them to consume on demand.)

The opportunity for deep and meaningful learning

Additionally, audiobooks provide the opportunity for a deep and meaningful learning experience with unmatched portability and accessibility.  They facilitate the inclusion of learning into virtually any daily activity, whether that’s the morning commute, the gym or just relaxing at home.  When they are incorporated into a learning path that includes self-study courses, they make for an incredibly powerful learning strategy that can transform organizations.

Try it!

We reccommendSkillsoft for audio learning needs. Skillsoft offers 500,000+ multi-modal courses, videos, authoritative content chapters and micro-learning modules which are accessed more than 130 million times every month, in 160 countries and 29 languages.

Examples of perennial bestseller audiobooks in Skillsoft’s collection include:

  • Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves
  • Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone by Mark Goulston M.D.
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey

With 100 percent secure cloud access, from any device, whenever, wherever. www.skillsoft.com  provides critical flexibility for learners with a range of different learning needs, aptitudes and preferences.