And there's something interesting there for retailers that I think should be extended to libraries. This would be a great way for librarians to become more familiar with a method of content delivery that appeals to "Information Consumers."
Retail Store Staff Listening Copies Program
Store Staff can’t handsell what they don’t know firsthand. To help retailers encourage staff recommendations of audiobooks and to further educate store staff about audiobook content, the APA is sending participating stores a lending library of staff listening copies (5-10 audiobooks per store). Booksellers will be able to sample and listen to an assortment of titles to get better acquainted with audiobooks in time for Audiobook month.
As the NPR story reported audiobook sales are increasing at double digit rates in the US with a 14% increase in sales between 2001 and 2003. This info was based on an APA survey: "The Audio Publishers Association (APA) released the results of its sales survey today, showing significant growth in retail, wholesale and library sales. APA’s publisher members participated in the sales survey that looked at sales data from 2001- 2003, with 76% of the respondents providing data from 2002 - 2003. According to the survey, retail and wholesale sales increased 14 percent and library sales increased by 7 percent."
And the Open ebook Forum, the organization representing the ebook community recently published the top selling titles for 2004. Library Journal reported on this on January 17, and listed the top 10 titles for 2004. The full list of 30 best selling titles can be found here.
PaidContent.org also reports online subscriptions are up for newspapers: the Wall Street Journal and those in the Knight Ridder group.
And what's the message here? I suggest that it's a very clear one. People will buy digital content if it's on topics of interest to them. And people will borrow digital content if it's on topics of interest to them. I will be so bold as to predict that audiobooks will become a hugely successful way of lending popular titles, both adult and juvenile titles...way more so than ebooks and perhaps even more than print eventually.