Federation of Ontario Public Libraries

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Why public libraries can’t buy some of Canada’s top audiobooks

“With the ubiquity of smartphones, the rise of podcasting and our collective obsession with multitasking, audiobooks have become the feel-good story of the publishing industry. Stateside, audiobook sales in 2015 leapt by 20 per cent — a $1.77-billion increase — and have only grown in popularity since. Audiobooks are so popular there that bestselling authors including Michael Lewis, Robert Caro and Jeffery Deaver have struck exclusive deals with Audible, leading to a situation where the subscription service is in some ways now in direct competition with book publishers.

In Canada, where audiobook sales numbers aren’t available, a 2016 BookNet Canada report found that audiobook circulation grew 33 per cent from 2014 to 2015. And, just two years after ECW Press became one of the first Canadian publishers to announce an audiobook production program, BookNet now reports that 61 per cent of Canadian publishers are suddenly producing audiobooks. That’s up from 37 per cent in 2016.”