New report shows link between adult audiobook habits and mental wellbeing

23 Mar 2022
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Today we are excited to launch our new report, funded by Audible, that shows audiobooks can have a positive effect on people of all ages. From our previous research we know they can encourage reading more widely, promote vocabulary acquisition and help build positive wellbeing in children, but this is the first study we have conducted into adults’ listening habits.

We commissioned a survey of 3,000 adults across the UK, asking about their listening habits and attitudes to reading. The report shows the current ways in which adults are listening and the importance of promoting and making audiobooks more accessible so that the number of people benefiting continues to increase.

The key findings from this report show the benefits that listening to audiobooks has on mental health. The report has found that 7 in 10 (70%) of adults who listen to audiobooks said it made them feel less stressed or anxious, with more than two thirds (67%) reporting that listening to audiobooks cheered them up when they felt down.

This new study, funded by Audible, reveals that of adults who listen to audiobooks:

  • More than 7 in 10 (72%) felt that audiobooks helped keep their brain stimulated
  • Over half (55%) said that audiobooks made them feel more connected to the world
  • Nearly 2 in 5 (38%) had listened more to audiobooks during the pandemic
  • 3 in 10 (30%) said they felt the wellbeing benefits of audiobooks more keenly during the pandemic.

One of our aims around this research is to continue to build an evidence base for the Axe the Reading Tax campaign, which calls for the removal of VAT from e-books and audiobooks. While we are delighted that the VAT from e-books was removed in 2020, we want to help make the case for why this should also be removed from audiobooks. We were disappointed that the Chancellor didn’t use his Spring Statement to remove the VAT from audiobooks.

This research highlights that 1 in 3 (34.5%) of adults who don’t listen to audiobooks miss out on the benefits audiobooks can bring because they either don’t know how to access them or are unable to access them due to lack of equipment or financial restraints. By removing the VAT on audiobooks, they would become more accessible and more people would experience the benefits they can bring.

Audiobooks give people the opportunity to take advantage of the flexibility they provide, such as walking while listening, they also bring life to the stories. Audiobooks are a distraction from stress and a good way to pass time, which was particularly helpful during lockdown. We are delighted to see that people of all ages are listening to audiobooks, and that so many have found solace and comfort through them during these uncertain and difficult times. Our sincere thanks to Audible for their contribution that enabled us to conduct this report.