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Heard Any Good Books Lately? An Industry Booms

The <i>Dylan Thomas Caedmon Collection</i> captures the range of the Welsh writer's career.
The Dylan Thomas Caedmon Collection captures the range of the Welsh writer's career.
<i>Dragon Rider</i> pairs a popular children's writer, Cornelia Funke, with the actor Brendan Fraser.
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Dragon Rider pairs a popular children's writer, Cornelia Funke, with the actor Brendan Fraser.

Audio book sales are increasing at a double-digit rate, according to the Audio Publishers Association. As Lynn Neary reports, popular books like the Harry Potter series have done well -- and expanded consumer awareness of audio books in the process.

And the future is beckoning. The industry is hoping to lure more fans with popular narrators and celebrity readers, CDs with special DVD-like features and books that can be downloaded to computers and digital players.

The audio book industry has grown steadily since the mid-1980s, when major publishing houses began recording some of their biggest new titles. Just last month, audio book publishers reported a 14 perent increase in sales between 2001 and 2003.

Another development may represent the future of audio books: digital downloading. Audible. com, the biggest provider of audio books online, reported an increase in sales from 5.1 million in 2001 to 18.4 in 2003.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Lynn Neary is an NPR arts correspondent covering books and publishing.

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