Larson is the latest best-selling author to experiment with a stand-alone audiobook, as sales of digital audio continue to rise. After a brief dip at the start of the pandemic, when many people were stuck at home and stopped listening to audiobooks during their commutes, the format has rebounded. Revenue from downloaded audiobooks grew more than 18 percent in the first five months of this year, according to the Association of American Publishers. In 2020, publishers in the United States released a record number of audio titles — more than 71,000 titles, an increase of nearly 40 percent over 2019. Publishers’ revenues from audio rose 12 percent to $1.3 billion over the same period, the ninth straight year of double-digit growth, according to the Audio Publishers Association.
Much of the genre’s growth has been driven by Audible, the audio producer and retailer owned by Amazon. In recent years, Audible has released audio originals by such best-selling novelists as Margaret Atwood, James Patterson, Curtis Sittenfeld, Philip Pullman and Neil Gaiman, as well as works by nonfiction writers like Michael Lewis, Michael Pollan, Ada Calhoun and Anne Helen Petersen.