March 4, 2024

Sonic Loyalty: Mastering the Art of Audiobook Series for Reader Retention

The Art of Audiobook Series for Reader Retention

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If you’re a publisher lucky enough to have a prolific series-writing author or two in your cannon, you’ll likely be sat smugly. Even if so, read on. If you’re a publisher not yet with that author in your list, read on.

Book series are a gold mine. In print, in digital, in audio. Valuable to the readers who lap up the words feverishly, lucrative to the author and publisher and the advantageous glue that platforms and retailers just love for retaining customers. 

And series aren’t solely the realm of Wimpy Kid, Harry Potter and George R. R. Martin or Harlequin or new digital-only publishers such as Denmark’s Steam. Every genre, every sub-genre, every niche of every sub-genre has its core fanbase and the ability to capitalise on series. And series in the audio space are an even bigger beast of the leash. Fuelled by the habit-forming podcast epidemic and energized by the multi-tasking friendliness, audiobook series provide rich and fertile grounds for savvy publishers.

Some analysis of amalgamated reading data from across Beat Technology’s platforms in 10 European markets provides us with some fascinating insights around book series including reader retention, completion rates and, (apart from the narrative itself), what other elements are likely to trigger success in a series.

For this piece I’ve removed the anomalies of superstar series, and looked solely at largely unpromoted series by non-household name authors whose work is largely discovered organically in platforms. In both ebook and audiobook formats when looking at readers completing book two in a series and then moving straight onto book three in the same series the retention rate is 57%. If you delve even deeper into longer series, the retention rate of a reader from book nineteen to book twenty is a staggering 91%. 

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