Why Are Audiobooks So Expensive? (11 Reasons Why)

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Fletcher Crawford

Fletcher Crawford is a 20-year veteran of the electrical engineering field. He has worked on everything from Linux systems to Apple products, and is passionate about technology.

Audiobooks are on the rise, and for a good reason. Unlike print books, audiobooks fit into the multi-tasking culture of modern society. To a degree, audiobooks are also more entertaining.

If you have recently bought an audiobook or subscribed to a platform, you know that audiobooks can be pretty expensive. Why is that? I looked into it, and here is what I found!

Why Are Audiobooks So Expensive?

1. Audiobooks Must Have Great Narrators

Audiobook producers spend a lot of time and resources auditioning audiobook narrators. After all, the wrong narrator can easily pull down an entire audiobook.

Typically, the best narrators have a lot of experience and can do many different voices. However, some audiobooks have more than one narrator.

Also, it is common for audiobooks to be narrated by celebrities. Regardless, audiobook narration is not cheap, and this often brings up the audiobook

2. Producing Audiobooks Involves A Lot Of Professionals

Contrary to popular belief, there is more to audiobook creation than narrators reading books aloud. A host of other professionals must be involved to produce a good output.

For example, two of these professionals are audiobook editors and mastering engineers. However, audiobook production teams will often have three or more personnel on the job.

Of course, paying for the hourly wages of these professionals is not cheap, which is one of the reasons audiobook prices are expensive.

3. Audiobooks Are Time-Consuming To Produce

An hour of completed audio normally takes four to six hours to produce, given that you have only one narrator.

Depending on the length of the book, the inclusion of sound effects, and the narrator’s performance, the production hours can take much longer.

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Additionally, production teams incur more costs the longer an audiobook takes to complete. Consequently, they have to cover these costs by charging more for audiobooks.

4. Audiobooks Pay Royalties To Authors & Publishers

Audiobooks tell stories that have already been sold in print, which means royalties have to be paid to the authors and publishers of the story.

With that, royalties can vary in percentages depending on who is recording the audiobook and where the audiobook will be published.

However minimal or extravagant the royalties are, these added costs can still make audiobooks pricier.

5. Audiobooks Have Lower Sales Than Print Books

5. Audiobooks Have Lower Sales Than Print Books

While there is no doubt that audiobooks are rising in popularity, it is also clear that audiobook demands are relatively low compared to print books.

Nevertheless, that does not change the fact that audiobooks take a lot of money. To recoup the money spent on production, audiobooks have to be sold at a high price.

Naturally, only when audiobooks have exceeded their production cost is a profit made.

6. There Are Only A Few Audiobook Providers

Audiobooks are not 21st-century innovations. Despite that, there are still only a few audiobook providers in the market.

When the competition is loose among providers of certain products, there is less need to be competitive with prices.

So, until more providers join the industry and create affordable alternatives for consumers, the current providers will continue to sell audiobooks and subscriptions at a high price.

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7. Audiobooks Are Considered A Luxury

Despite the boom of music streaming and wireless earphones, many still consider audiobooks a luxury.

After all, audiobooks allow people to multitask more freely and provide entertainment that is less enticing than movies but more sophisticated than radio dramas.

As with all things that are viewed as a luxury, audiobooks must be priced expensively to emphasize the value they bring to the market.

8. Audiobook Providers Maintain An App

Whether buying a single audiobook or subscribing to a platform, audiobook providers have to maintain an app to cater to your needs.

For more traditional folks, platforms like Audible and Scribd also have to operate a website, requiring professionals and IT infrastructures.

Naturally, these costs are passed on to consumers by increasing the prices of audiobooks.

9. Audiobooks Can Span Several Hours

Audiobooks are priced based on how long they are. Typically, books have 100,000 words, which translates to around three to five hours of audio.

At three hours, an audiobook can cost around $7 to $10. Additionally, audiobooks that last upwards of 20 hours can have a price tag ranging from $25 to $35.

Creating and storing lengthy audiobooks are expensive, which ends up showing in the final cost of audiobooks.

10. Audiobooks Need Extensive Marketing

New audiobook titles are released every day, and to stand out, platforms have to promote their brand and the titles they cater to.

However, marketing on social media will not be effective without spending the right amount of money. Additionally, platforms have to pay marketing specialists to get the best results.

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Once the word has spread about the audiobook, platforms have to recoup their marketing expenses, and they can only do that by demanding higher prices for their audiobooks.

11. Audiobook Prices Can Vary Per Brand

More established brands like Audible can command higher prices because they are popular platforms. Additionally, Audible is known to produce high-quality audiobooks.

Meanwhile, other platforms do not charge as much for audiobooks because they are still building their brand and amassing more followers.

Naturally, audiobooks produced by more popular and trusted brands will fetch higher prices.

To learn more, you can also read our posts on why YouTube Premium is so expensive, why Apple TV is so expensive, and why Hallmark movies are so bad.


Audiobooks are costly to produce, partly because it requires a host of professionals and partly because of the hours it takes to create a single hour of completed audio.

Moreover, there are only a few audiobook providers, and the lack of competition means there is no urgency to promote competitive prices.

Additionally, audiobooks can span several hours, translating to more extensive production, marketing, and storage costs.

All of these factors contribute to the expensiveness of audiobooks today.


  • Fletcher Crawford

    Fletcher Crawford is a 15-year veteran of the electrical engineering field. He has worked on everything from Linux systems to Apple products, and is passionate about technology.

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