Bono and Bob: A Tale of Two Audiobooks

“Hey, are you still there?” A voice asks this question with a conspiratorial whisper. “It’s incredible that we’re here, right?” It is the final line in Bono’s new memoir, Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story, and it is delivered with the indefatigable sense of optimism and faith that permeates the book. But you won’t find the line anywhere in the hardcover or ebook editions; it appears only in the final 12 seconds of the audiobook.

For anyone who is a bit of an obsessive completist (like me) and hangs on all the way through the end credits of an audiobook, the line is a nice little bonus. After 20 hours and 25 minutes listening to the U2 frontman narrate his life story, the moment feels disarmingly intimate: a secret message to the growing number of consumers who have jumped onto the audio bandwagon, and a small window into how the format creates a unique and compelling experience for consumers.

Whether you have been listening or not, an audiobook revolution has been going on for quite some time. According to the Audio Publishers Association, the industry has experienced double-digit growth in sales in each of the past 10 years. The audio streaming giant Spotify is betting big that the $10 billion global audiobook market could eventually grow to $70 billion. Prior to this, the Swedish company had already invested $1 billion on the audiobook’s episodic and shorter-form cousin, the podcast, which has experienced even more explosive growth. [MORE]

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