Sandeep Sethi, a 27-year-old MBA professional in Bangalore, never liked reading much. He barely picked up a book in college. It was not that he didn’t like books but the whole activity of picking up a book and reading it was something that he could not relate to.
But in the past year, he has finished 10 books, including Amish Tripathi’s ‘The Shiva Trilogy,’ Walter Isaacson’s biography of ‘Steve Jobs’ and Chetan Bhagat’s ‘Revolution 2020’ and ‘Two States.’ He listens to audio books in snippets throughout the day on his smart phone during his morning workout, on his 1 hour commute to work, and while he’s running errands throughout the day.
The digital revolution may have dealt a heavy blow to print, but it is boosting readership in other unexpected ways by fuelling the massive growth of audio books. Started in the 70s audio books were a means of instruction and unconventional ‘reading’ for sight challenged individuals. Technology changed that. The internet blitz and Internet enabled ‘smart’ devices have proved to be the wind beneath the wings of the audio book industry.
Audio books have gone mass-market. Sales have jumped by double digits in recent years. Shifts in digital technology have broadened the pool of potential listeners to include anyone with a smart phone. The figures speak for themselves – from a minuscule number of 3073 titles in 2007 to an exponential 20,000 published titles in 2013. The current Audio Book industry is worth of over USD 2 billion that is a leap from a USD 480 million in sales in 1997. The exciting prediction for this industry is a growth of 17 percent yearly up to 2018 as compared to only 12 percent from 2008 to 2013. The report said that between 2008 to 2013 audio book publishers sold USD 4.6 billion worth of audiobooks.
There is reason to believe that audiobooks will transcend the limitations of the current niche market it occupies. As people get busier, audio books will be the means to remain connected with gaining knowledge, having some intellectual fun or just pure pleasure. Especially in India, which according to statistics, has one of the highest commute times in the world, with Mumbai at 52 Mins being the highest. Reado, an audio books provider in India, says it has the highest number of Listeners from Mumbai.
Scientific studies have repeatedly shown that there is virtually no difference between listening to a story and reading it. The format has little bearing on a reader’s ability to understand and remember a text. Some scholars argue that listening to a text might even improve understanding, especially for difficult works like Shakespeare, where a narrator’s interpretation of the text can help convey the meaning. With audio books the hands can take on other jobs, whereas the mind is free to conjure images and scenes while they are being heard in the narration.
About the Author:
Sumit Suneja started the audio bookstore Reado.com after an extensive experience in the Indian Home Video industry with Eagle Home Entertainment. After spending 10 years with Eagle Home Entertainment, Sumit noticed a vacuum in the publishing industry for audio books. Being an avid audio book listener himself, he knew the predicament faced by Indians wanting to listen to quality audio books.
With that thought in mind he launched Reado.com keeping in mind the Indian audience focussing on Indian content and customising the website for the Indian consumer. A father of two, Sumit has also been featured on the CNBC Young Turks show for bringing audio books in India, and opening up a new market for the Indian publishing industry.
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