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Audiobooks grab a young audience

11 July 2016

Not content with deciding they prefer print books to ebooks, young people are further confounding expectations by showing a growing enthusiasm for audiobooks. This is perhaps even more surprising because audiobooks have been seen in the UK as appealing especially to older people, whilst in the US they tend to find a ready audience amongst commuters, given the American tendency to drive long distances to work.

Whatever the reason, busy lifestyles are planning a part in this choice. Those readers involved may be young and love books, but they are so preoccupied by their careers that they have little time for reading. Sarah Shrubb, chairwoman of the Publishers' Association Audio Publishers Group, says that these: ‘Hyper-readers are people who like to listen while they're driving, commuting or while they're doing the housework. They're busy people who don't want to waste time. It's about cramming in as much as possible.'

Alex Baddely, a 22-year-old law student from London, described how she used audiobooks to keep running: ‘I'm a marathon runner and it's easier to motivate myself for a dark and stormy three-hour run when I know I have something exciting or interesting to listen to... I don't have time in the rest of my day to have the luxury of reading, so it's killing two birds with one stone.'

Part of the reason for the increasing popularity of audiobooks is the more sophisticated marketing employed by websites such as Audible and, which make it extremely easy to choose from (respectively) over 200,000 and around 100,000 titles. But people, especially young people, are increasingly getting audiobooks downloaded to phones or other devices, and this easy playback set-up is proving increasingly attractive.

Although we tend to bemoan the loss of readers and time to read, what's really amazing is the versatility of the book and its continuing appeal to new generations.