Michelle Obama and Stephen Fry help drive audiobook boom

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Money spent on audiobooks in the UK almost doubled in 2018, helped by the likes of Michelle Obama, Mel B and Stephen Fry.

Figures from The Publishers Association show audiobook sales were worth £69m, up by 43% on the previous year.

The top title with online book library Audible was Becoming by former US First Lady Michelle Obama.

Elsewhere, digital book sales rose by 3% in 2018, while physical sales were down by 5%.

The latter bucks a three-year trend for physical books being on the rise. Digital growth, however, has driven the UK publishing industry to a total value of £6bn.

Talking titles by Adam Kay, Heather Morris, Anna Burns and Lily Allen came next in the 2018 Audible chart.

Publishers Association chief executive Stephen Lotinga said “investment in digital is paying off and driving growth”.

He added: “Audiobooks have grown phenomenally, as ever-increasing numbers of people opt to enjoy books in a way that suits new technologies and keeps pace with our busy lives.”

Mr Lotinga also urged the government “to act now to axe the unfair reading tax”, noting online titles have 20% VAT added, while their print equivalents do not.

And he warned against the “continuing squeeze on school budgets”, which he said had seen sales of school textbooks sales “take a hit” because “teachers simply can’t afford the learning resources children need”.

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