Audio Publishers Association Conference

2024 Conference Wrap Up, Part 2

This year’s Audio Publishers Association Conference (APAC) brought together audiobook-industry leaders to explore the evolving landscape of audio consumption. NetGalley was thrilled to sponsor and speak at this event. Across all sessions, attendees and presenters alike celebrated the continued growth of the audio market.

Darcy Piedmonte speaking at APAC 2024, demonstrating how NetGalley members express enthusiasm for audiobooks “out in the wild.”

Paul Abassi (Bookstat) reminded attendees of the huge growth in audiobook sales in recent years, from over $1.7 billion in 2018 to over $3 billion in 2023. Last year proved a substantial increase across both legacy and newer retailers, including publishers of all sizes and multiple genre categories.  Kristen McLain (Circana Entertainment Knowledge Group) positioned audio as a thriving market ripe for further innovation and expansion. Kristen pointed out that audio is the only category growing across all age groups, with some titles selling equal in (or more!) shares than other formats. Further, audiobook consumers are willing and ready to invest in their overall experience. 

Laura Ivy (Edison Research) shared that audiobook audiences are continuing to skew younger, supported by APAC’s own Sales & Consumer Data Survey conducted last year, which revealed: “The majority of audiobook listeners are young, with 57% being between the ages of 18 and 44, significantly higher than the 49% of the U.S. population that falls within the same age range.” Kristen McLain added, “Future listeners are living with current listeners!”

Darcy Piedmonte, Senior Sales Manager at NetGalley, joined Eric Barnett (Supporting Cast), Lizzie Breyer Bowman (Lemonada), and moderator Amy Metsch (Spiegel & Grau) on a panel titled, “Audiobooks in the Wild”, to discuss how forward-thinking approaches to audiobook and spoken word programming foster audience engagement and community. The conversation underscored the significance of dynamic content strategies in attracting and retaining listeners. Darcy delved into the thriving audiobook community facilitated by NetGalley, sharing case studies featuring an independently published audiobook side-by-side with a celebrity memoir (spoiler alert: both performed extremely well on NetGalley). She also spoke about NetGalley’s role in fostering interactions between audio publishers and enthusiastic listeners, providing updates about the NetGalley community’s growth and engagement. Be on the lookout for more about this!

A highlight of the event was Malcolm Gladwell’s keynote address emphasizing tremendous opportunities for internet-based audio. Gladwell brought attention to our collective chance to democratize production, highlight on-demand, recursive listening, and revolutionize access with few barriers to entry. However, there are significant limitations standing in the way related to fair- versus limited use, where limited use greatly sacrifices transformative experiences that can enhance listeners’ lives. Gladwell illuminated the downsides in the specific, story-driven way only he can. The audience was convinced: the industry is not currently able to exploit the full potential of the audio medium. However, as industry professionals we can band together for a “Fair Use” movement and coalition. Only then will we harness the power of our creative potential and realize the spoken word future we all want to see. 

Lastly, we are thrilled to congratulate this year’s Audie Award Winners! We’re honored that so many of these award-winning audiobooks were available on NetGalley.

Read more of our 2024 conference wrap ups:

And find us at the following events this spring!

  • March 12 – 14, London Book Fair
  • March 21 – 24, Leipzig Book Fair
  • April 12, Book Industry Study Group (BISG) Annual Meeting
  • April 12 – 14, Paris Book Festival
  • April 25 – 27, Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) Publishing University

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