Audiobooks: The History


Audiobooks have a unique and fascinating history. In 1933, anthropologist J.P. Harrington, drove the length of North America to record oral histories of Native American tribes on aluminum discs using a car battery-powered turntable. Now, in the 21st Century, the definition of books and publishing is evolving as technology advances and the consumer demands change. Audiobooks allow avid readers to multi-task in today’s hectic world. Consumers can listen to an audiobook as they commute, exercise, or cook. At the same time, audiobooks preserve the oral tradition of storytelling that J.P. Harrington pursued many years ago. Narration, sound effects, and music can complement the reading experience.

What Are Audio Books?

Audio books, also known as books on CD or tape, can be a helpful tool for: those who are traveling and need to catch up on important information, for the visually impaired or for those who just enjoy listening to books rather than reading through them.

With the use of the Internet, people can also download audio books online and use them as digital files. Since recording and producing audio is easier than ever before thanks to new recording and editing technology, the demand for books on CD or digital format is quite high. People often commute to and from work each day, and enjoy listening to an audio book while driving. Students often find that books being read to them aloud helps them to study better than if they were reading the text themselves. With good, talented people such as ours doing the recordings, the listener should be able to get the full experience of the book as the author intended. Publishers, bookstores, and authors can all utilize audio books as a marketable good that customers want.

Who Records Audio Books?

People who record audio books are known as narrators. A narrator performs the task of reading a book aloud and having it recorded in a professional setting. Often, these books can involve fictitious and colorful characters so the narrator must be able to perform several different character voices, distinguishing them from each other in unique ways.

Talented people with controlled, clear voices can make any book sound much more interesting and intriguing. It’s important to select a person or group of people who can read and record your book to your specifications. This is where comes in. We insure that the results are exactly what you’re looking for, and we have a large pool of narrators from all backgrounds to choose from.

Self-Publishing an Audio Book

With a wide variety of voice over talent to choose from, you can be assured that your book will read aloud beautifully. In order for your publication to be effective and reach a wide audience, be sure to hire someone who will articulate the book’s theme and ideals well.

Recording an audio book is truly an art form that takes patience, skill, and a voice that will be appealing to people throughout the book from start to finish. The editing may be done by either the narrator or the producer of the audiobook. The world of digital and recorded media is competitive; however, rest assured with we can provide voice talent that will make your book sound professional, exciting, and easy to understand.

Determine Your Budget For Narration and Production

Figure out how many words there are in the book, how long it will take to record and factor in how much it will cost to have the audiobook narrated, edited and produced. Here are some statistics that will help you to determine how much money you may need to budget for:

  • The average audiobook is 100,000 words in length
  • 100,000 words = 11 hours of audio
  • 11 hours of audio = 22 hours of voice in the studio
  • It usually takes 2 hours of recording for every finished hour of audio.  Try this tool to convert word count to time.

Note that it usually takes twice as long, if not longer, to edit a voice over than it does to record it. The time spent editing will vary depending on the audio engineering skills a narrator possesses. If you have editing skills you may wish to do the editing on your end to save some money.

You might be wondering how much money you should be budgeting for your audiobook. Just how much do narrators charge for recording audiobooks? Some narrators charge $200 per finished hour of recording while others charge as high as (or higher than) $500 per finished hour of audio. As mentioned earlier, some audio editing may be required and should be accounted for in your budget.

A Voice for Every Genre of Audio Book

Choose from a diverse pool of different vocal tones, styles, and inflections until you find the perfect match that will help increase sales and exposure. You can choose to post a job to receive auditions from talent reading from your script (highly recommended) or search for voice talent right on our home page. If you’d like some help, be sure to visit our Contact Us page to start a live chat, give us a call or email us directly. With the right match, you’re sure to see the results you have been looking for.

Publishing Audiobooks at

Join thousands of others who’ve discovered — the best way to audition and hire audio book narrators for book publishing projects online. is a unique web service that helps you complete your audio book narration projects online. Unique because you’ll actually enjoy using it. It’s simple, fast, and web-based. You don’t need to download or install anything – everything happens in your web browser.

A Promising Future for Audiobooks

The Audio Publishers Association (APA) recently released the results of the 2009 APA Sales Survey, conducted to evaluate trends and measure the growth of the audiobook market. The independent research firm, LewisClarkBoone Market Intelligence, surveyed audiobook publishers and analyzed consumer sales data from 2008, comparing current statistics against the previous years findings. The results show the audio industry experienced only a slight drop in sales in 2008, comparable to those of the trade book industry.

For the first time, the APA is releasing the measure of publishers’ revenues, a metric that other publishing industry trade associations use. Revenue reported by 30 member companies is $331 million, down only 6.7% from last year. The APA estimates that the total size of the audiobook industry, based on the dollars spent by consumers and libraries, is close to $1 billion.

The audiobook industry has been growing steadily for more than a decade. And while some segments of the audiobook business slowed in 2008, some formats saw significant growth.

Sales of Audiobooks

  • CD sales represent 72% of the audio market.
  • Downloads grew to 21% of the market.
  • The sales of preloaded devices increased significantly, now making up 3% of the total market.
  • Cassette sales stayed the same since 2007, accounting for 3% of sales in 2008.
  • Unabridged audiobooks made up 68% of the units and 85% of the 2008 audiobook market.

Consumer Use of Audiobooks

  • Roughly one in five American households listened to an audiobook within the the last year. (Audio Publishers 2001 Consumer Survey)
  • Of the main audiobook listeners surveyed, 76% are female and 24% are male. The average listening age for females is 45 and the average listening age for males is 47. (Audio Publishers 2001 Consumer Survey)
  • The average audiobook listener earns 25% more than non-listeners, has a higher level of education and is more likely to hold a professional or managerial position than a non-listener. (Audio Publishers 2001 Consumer Survey)
  • Americans make 51.3 billion trips to and from work in their own vehicles. Sales of downloadable audiobooks increased in 2008, to 21 percent of sales, up every year. (Commuter Consumer, The Washington Post, April 24,2005)
  • One factor driving sales is, literally, driving. “The number-one place people listen is in their cars” says Mary Beth Roche, publisher at Audio Renaissance. As commuter times lengthen, she says, avid readers are driven to books that let them keep their eyes on the road. (Now Hear This, American Way, May 15 2008)
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