One of the biggest drawbacks of our busy, information-packed lives today is finding the time to watch all the great shows available, listen to music and, perhaps saddest of all, finding the time to read a good book. I know that by the time I’ve consumed reports and reviewed papers at work, the desire to do more reading isn’t as strong as it might be if I have a few days off where I can relax with a good novel. Those days, though, are just too few and far between.
A big advantage for seniors, though, is that they do have the time to spend reading – but often, there are other complications that get in the way, such as not being able to see as well. Age-related vision problems, such a macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts, etc. can make it a chore to just see the printed word, whether it’s on a page or an e-reader such as Kindle.
But there is a solution: Audiobooks.
In fact, audiobooks are the fastest growing segment in the industry, accounting for more than $2.5 billion in sales. In fact, the digital arms of the country’s biggest publishing houses are staying afloat – even though e-book sales have declined by nearly 5% -- due to the increased popularity of audiobooks. And while those age 55 and above account for 29% of these sales, it’s not an age-driven phenomenon. Forty-eight percent of audiobook listeners are under the age of 35.
Because of this boom, publishers are making more and more titles available on audiobooks, making the potential library more appealing than ever. Here are some other trends that I found interesting:
- The top three reasons cited for listening to audiobooks include you can do other things while listening; audiobooks are portable and you can listen practically anywhere, and; people enjoy being read to.
- People also indicated that audiobooks help them finish more books, with regular audiobook users listening to an average of 15 books per year.
- Podcasts are seen as a gateway to audiobooks, with 40% of the U.S. having listened to a podcast. This has led to outlets such as Audible, Tunein, Overdrive and Scribd to offer free podcast content as a way of attracting subscribers.
If you’re not sure if audiobooks are right for you or a loved one, there are ways to check them out before making a commitment. For example, Audible (available as an app on many phones without even having to download it) offers a free audiobook when you sign up and doesn’t charge you until after 30 days ($14.95 per month after that time elapses).
So, if you have a loved one who loves to read but may not be able to see as clearly as they used to, I strongly urge you to give audiobooks a try. Don’t be afraid to explore different options to find the titles and a price point that best fits your situation.