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Audiobooks: A survey of UK adults in 2021

Added 22 Mar 2022 | Updated 11 Jan 23

In June 2021 we commissioned a survey of 3,000 adults in the UK, asking questions about their listening habits and attitudes, their attitudes to reading, and their social media engagement.

Key findings:

Listening habits

  • Over 2 in 5 (44.3%) UK adults said in 2021 that they listened to audiobooks in their spare time, with nearly 3 in 10 (27.1%) listening to them at least once a week.
  • Nearly 2 in 5 (38%) of the 44.3% who listened to audiobooks said that they had listened to more audiobooks during the pandemic.

Audiobooks and mental wellbeing

  • 7 in 10 (72%) said that listening to audiobooks kept their brain stimulated.
  • 7 in 10 (70%) said that listening to audiobooks made them feel less stressed and anxious, while a similar percentage (67%) said that listening to audiobooks cheered them up when they were feeling down or feeling depressed.

Audiobooks and elderly populations

  • While engagement with audiobooks was lower for older populations, the motivations for listening to them were the same as for other age groups, with 4 out of 5 (80.1%) listeners in this age group saying audiobooks helped keep their brain stimulated (vs 77.4% of those aged 18-24) and that they allowed them to complete other tasks (50.0% vs. 42.1% of those aged 18-24).

Audiobooks and criminal justice

  • Audiobook clubs run in prisons during lockdown brought opportunities for connection and conversation between listeners and authors that might not otherwise have happened during a time of increased isolation
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