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Audiobooks in Italy: a new record of listeners in 2020

audiobooks in Italy record of new listeners

In 2019, the Italians who claimed to have listened to at least one audiobook during the year, in the range between 15 and 75 years, were about 4.1 million people, 9% of total Italian readers with an increase of 28.3% compared to 2018 (source:

Also during 2019, book sales in Italy were characterized by 65 % of hard copies, 25 % of e-books and 9 % of audiobooks. The Italian readers who declared to listen only to audiobooks were 3% of the total.

According to this survey, also referring to 2019, among the listeners of audiobooks, 40 % stated that they had a subscription to Audible ( or Storytel ( 44 % said they had downloaded free of charge from other available websites, while 28 % had purchased individually audiobooks from Google Play, Apple Books, Emons (, il Narratore (, and 21 % had purchased directly from websites of other independent publishers.

This survey, which allowed respondents more choice options, also showed a 21% purchase of audiobooks in CD format (especially with online purchases).

audiobooks headphones table

However, the trend of the first 4 months of 2020, in which the lockdown implemented by the Italian Government to deal with the pandemic generated by Covid-19 had a significant impact, saw an incredible increase in Italian listeners of audiobooks by 70% compared to the same period in 2019.

The habits of Italian listeners have also changed: if audiobooks were previously listened in the “Belpaese” to mainly in the time slot 7-9 a.m. and 5-7 p.m. , in 2020 there was a great increase in the number of listeners in the time slot 2 -5 p.m.

There has also been an increase of over 20% in the number of listeners of content for children and teenagers.

How and why are audiobooks listened to in Italy?

In 2020, audiobooks in Italy are listened mainly with the smartphone (71%), via tablet, notebook and voice assistant in second place (20%) and then with cd and mp3 players (9%).

21% of Italian listeners say they want to hear an Italian voice-over especially while doing other activities (while driving, running, traveling), 14% say they prefer audiobooks in English while 18% say they listen to audiobooks in both Italian and English so as not to strain their eyesight.

Best-selling audiobooks in Italy in 2020

Among the most purchased or listened audiobooks we find the detective novel "La misura del tempo” di Gianrico Carofiglio (, an audiobook lasting 7 hours and 38 minutes. The narration sees as Italian voiceover the author of the book himself. In second place "Morire per la verità” di Roberto Saviano (, here too the author is the protagonist of the Italian voiceover.

As for the most popular books in English in Italy in 2020, in first place we find "The English language course" by John Peter Sloan (

In conclusion, it can be said that Italy, although still a small market for audiobooks, shows interesting growth prospects and highlighted especially in 2020 with an increasing passion for Italian voice overs by Italian readers who are becoming more and more fond of an Italian voice talent, a voice actor, an Italian artist capable of transmitting great emotions.

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