Revenue of the group “Liters” from sales of audiobooks, in the segment of which the company, according to its own estimate, occupies 70%, increased in the first half of the year by 50% compared to the same period last year. The dynamics exceeded even the one that was last year against the background of the lockdown. This time, the consumption of audiobooks stimulated, on the contrary, the removal of travel restrictions, according to market participants. The segment is growing from a low base, experts say, so the high rates will not last long: in three to four years the market will stabilize, as happened in the USA and Great Britain.
Kommersant got acquainted with the results of Liters Group (combines the services of Liters, MyBook, LiveLib, etc.) on the sales of audiobooks for the first half of the year. It follows from them that the group’s revenue from sales of audiobooks from January to June increased by more than 50% compared to the same period last year, the absolute figures were not disclosed. “Liters” estimates its share of the Russian audiobook market at 70%. According to the results of the first quarter, Liters estimates the capacity of the entire audiobook market at 669 million rubles.
Compared to the first half of 2020, which saw tough antiquated restrictions, the growth rate of the audiobook market has not fallen, the company emphasizes. In January-June last year, Liters’ revenue from audiobooks increased by 45.5%. Taking into account the accumulated pace at the end of 2021, the market may exceed 3 billion rubles, the group expects. At the end of 2020, the audiobook segment amounted to 2.1 billion rubles.
Acceleration of the growth of the audio segment in the first half of the year is primarily due to the return, for example, of trips to rest or for work, says Sergey Anuryev, General Director of Liters Group: “In March-June 2020, most Russians were restricted in movement, worked remotely and could not listen audiobooks in the subway or car ”. Now these opportunities have returned, in addition, notes Mr. Anuryev, users began to travel again in Russia and abroad and listen to audiobooks while traveling. So, according to him, sales of audiobooks during the May holidays increased by 39% compared to the same period last year.
Audiobooks are a young market segment that is growing from a low base, and therefore at a faster pace than conventional e-books, according to market participants. “The Russian audiobook market is just at the beginning of its development,” says Boris Makarenkov, CEO of Storytel Russia. According to Mr. Makarenkov, it is almost not affected by short-term ups or downs in demand: “There is a global trend for the growth of the segment.” Storytel does not disclose the dynamics for the six months. Bookmate declined to comment.
With growth of 50% against growth of 45% in the first half of 2020, “it is too early to talk about acceleration,” the head of the Association of Internet Publishers Vladimir Kharitonov is cautious. “The consumption of audiobooks is really specifically tied to a lifestyle, since it does not require eyes and hands, which means it gains time from other media, for example, training, cooking or traveling,” the expert notes. Last year, publishers, he said, feared that restrictions on public transport would reduce consumption of audiobooks: “Traffic has dropped, but it is clear that household chores have taken up the time to listen to books.”
However, high growth rates are unlikely to remain for a long time, believes Vladimir Kharitonov: “In the USA and Great Britain, for example, the segment continues to grow not so impressively as it did three or four years ago. Apparently, stabilization is beginning there. ” According to him, the growth graph of e-book sales in Russia lagged behind the United States by about five to seven years. For audiobooks, the expert notes, the delay is three to four years.