Audience crossover between audiobook listeners and podcast fans has long been strong.
Looking back on 2019, it’s clear one of the biggest trends in publishing was the same one that’s been on the rise for the past few years: Audiobook revenue across 2018 grew 24.5% over the prior year to hit $940 million, and similar growth continued across 2019.
Publishers responded with a renewed focus on audiobooks and podcasts, whether turning popular podcasts into books or launching an original audio drama in podcast form with an accompanying novelization. In 2020, they’re only picking up steam.
I spoke with Mary Beth Roche, President and Publisher of Macmillan Audio, to learn more about their plans for the upcoming year, and what directions the publisher predicts the audiobook industry is headed towards in 2020.
First, audience crossover between audiobook listeners and podcast fans has long been strong, and is anticipated to continue serving publishers well across 2020.
“We are forecasting continued growth in the audiobook format in 2020,” Roche says. “Some of this growth will continue to come from listeners who have been introduced to the pleasures of the spoken word through podcasts. In fact, we have a number of examples of this crossover on our own publishing lists.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the genre of true crime was a big winner: “My Favorite Murder” podcast hosts Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark debuted a book, Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered, in May 2019, and its audiobook was a “phenomenal success,” Roche says.
They’ll likely repeat this podcast/audiobook crossover in 2020 with a new book: “Early next year, Jocko Willink, co-author of the remarkably successful Extreme Ownership, which is still on the audiobook bestseller list four years after its initial release, will put out a new audiobook on leadership, entitled Leadership Tactics, sure to appeal to the many fans of his ‘The Jocko Podcast.’”
The other big audio trend that publishers will continue leaning on for the foreseeable future? Promoting and remixing books in their existing podcasts.
“Plans are underway for more of our mystery books to be highlighted in Macmillan’s own true crime podcast, ‘Case Closed,’ which will release its third season next spring,” Roche says.