More Unintended Consequences

Help!- I’m trapped in a maze of cardboard boxes, and I can’t find the way out!

Not really. But there are a lot of boxes, and they all need to be filled so they can be loaded up this weekend, so this will be a rather short post.

Let’s talk about audio books. I don’t listen to them a lot, because I read so much faster than anyone can talk intelligibly, and I remember information better when I read it. But other people swear by them, and they’ve been the hot new thing for the reading public over the past couple of years. A lot of authors pour money into hiring voice actors to read them, and gear their advertising toward commuters who have nothing better to do for an hour or more five days a week.

Until this winter, when a large part of audio book listeners started working from home. Suddenly their commute became the route between the bedroom, kitchen, and living room. Not enough time to pop in a book of any kind. Only time will tell if the change is permanent; maybe some of the audio book readers will switch to print/ebooks, if they have the time to read them.

If you have books available as audio books, have you noticed a change in sales in the past few months? Are you continuing to publish your books in this format, or planning to do so in the future? If you’re a reader of audio books, have your reading habits changed? Have you started listening to audio books while doing other things, like cleaning, just to get your fix? Do you expect your habits will change again if/when you start working away from home again?

Details, please. I’m hoping to give my career a kick in the butt when I’ve gotten settled in the new house, and I need to know if audio books are still an avenue worth exploring.


  1. I prefer audiobooks for pleasure reading. I listen to them while walking (my main form of exercise) and also at work–depending on what I am doing. I don’t have enough sales in any media to notice a slowdown.

  2. The amount of ready-made listening time I have available in my day has been reduced dramatically since I started working from home at the end of March, as I am no longer spending 90+ minutes daily in the car commuting. I listened to 10 audiobooks between January and mid-March of this year, and only three in the two months since.

    That said, I suspect my listening habits will go back to what they were once I am commuting again.

  3. I only go into the office once a week now (it’s an hour away), so my audiobook/podcast habit has also gone way down. I still listen when I take the doggos for a walk, but otherwise…yeah, not as much as I had been. Though as Anki said above, I expect that will go back to what it was when I’m back at the office full time again.

  4. I’ve purchased a few audiobooks, but I find I have a very hard time working on something and paying attention to the audio at the same time. I usually look up from my work a half hour later and realize I have no idea what is going on in the story. They’re just not a good fit with me.

  5. I only have one book published on Kindle, so not much to go on. But back in March sales and KUL reads fell off a cliff. Started back up again about May 16th.

    I take this to mean that people were huddling at home and saving their money as hard as they could. Now that the nice weather is finally here and the lockdown is easing, they feel better and want to read again.

    Or it could just be noise, not signal. Hard to say.

  6. I’ve never gotten into audio books; if there isn’t a visual component, my mind treats it as background noise and I keep having to rewind and listen again.

  7. When I last had an office job, I would listen to audiobooks on my commute, and sometimes during the day, depending on the job. Once I jumped into writing with both feet (probably still too early, but even under control hypothyroid puts a serious check on my energy levels) I also basically stopped listening to books.

  8. I’ve never been into audio book, nor podcasts. Half the time I don’t even have the radio on in the car for long distance trips.

  9. > If you’re a reader of audio books, have your reading habits changed?

    Nope. A lot of what I do during the day requires zero mental engagement, but has to be done. Audiobooks help dispel the boredom, albeit at the equivalent of 300 baud dialup…

    I like books. But books require Book Time, which is exclusive for reading, whereas Audio Time is almost any time.

  10. Before I retired, I commuted 60 – 90 minutes each way to work. I listened to audiobooks during that time. Now, I listen to them while I exercise, and whenever I’m in the car by myself. So I still listen to them, but the time spent listening is way down. I also get the books I listen to from, so that’s not going to help any modern author’s sales.

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