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“Listen & Read: The Battle for Attention” – Bookwire publishes the latest market research on key audience behaviour in the age of eBooks, audiobooks and podcasts


Frankfurt a. M., 15 October 2020 – How do eBook users discover new titles? How are digital media offers positioned in comparison to “analogue” offers? Do audiobooks, podcasts and eBooks cannibalize or stimulate each other? And how old are the users of digital publishing offers? The report “Listen & Read: The Battle for Attention” answers these and many other questions. The report will be presented on 15 October as part of the Frankfurt Conference Audio Track.

“Listen & Read: The Battle for Attention” is published by Bookwire GmbH. The report is currently the most up-to-date and comprehensive market research, and yielded a total of twelve insights into consumer behaviour. It was designed by Bookwire, the digital publishing technology business, together with the Gesellschaft für Innovative Marktforschung (GIM):

2,335 people aged between 16 and 65 years, across Germany, were surveyed about their media use during the past six months, and 1,000 users of eBooks, digital audiobooks or podcasts were asked more detailed questions about their usage behaviour. The surveys were conducted during August and September 2020.

Videl Bar-Kar, Global Head of Audio at Bookwire GmbH will present the report “Listen & Read: The Battle for Attention” to the trade audience for the first time, in a virtual presentation as part of the Frankfurt Conference Audio Track, at 16.00 on 15 October 2020. Afterwards, Bookwire will make the report available for anyone interested to download for free at

Here are the report’s most important findings at a glance

1.     eBooks, audiobooks and podcasts have become mainstream. People often use two or three of these media in parallel.

43 percent of those questioned said that they had used at least one eBook, audiobook or podcast within the past six months. Just under half of all users (48 %) use a number of these media in parallel: 21 percent use all three and 27 percent use two media.

eBooks, audiobooks and podcasts are complementary media that only cannibalize each other to a minor extent.

eBooks, audiobooks and podcasts hardly cannibalize each other at all: a maximum of 14 percent of users said that they use eBooks, audiobooks or podcasts at the expense of one of the other two media.

While eBooks and audiobooks are used for relaxation and entertainment more so than podcasts, podcasts tend to expand knowledge and education and/or are more informative about current issues.

The three media interact in a mutually reinforcing manner.

Over half of eBook users (56 %), audiobook users (57 %) and podcast users (51 %) revealed that consumption of the medium in question had already induced them to use content on another medium – an astonishingly high proportion.

eBooks have fans and are more than “just” practical. And they still allow room for printed books.

A quarter of users of these three media said that eBooks were their favourite format to consume. The study does not support any fears that eBooks could be replaced by other digital media.

At the same time, the data reveals that analogue media still have loyal communities of users today. For 40 percent of users, the main reason for not using eBooks is that they prefer analogue media – a surprisingly high number in our fast-moving digital age, and a fact that will please many.

Gen Z love to listen; baby boomers enjoy reading.

Audiobooks and podcasts mainly reach Gen X (40–55 years), Gen Y (25–39 years) and Gen Z (16–24 years), but less so the baby boomer generation (56 years and older). By contrast, eBooks are popular with the latter.

Gen Z would rather pay for access in subscription models over individual purchases. Publishers who want to reach them shouldn’t pass by the major audio platforms.

16 to 24-year-olds listen to podcasts more frequently than other generations (73 % vs. 62 % Gen Y and 57 % Gen X), and they mainly consume media on the major music streaming platforms – if a media content provider isn’t listed on one of these platforms, it may as well not exist for Generation Z. 43 percent of Gen Z prefer to stream audiobooks with Spotify and 70 percent prefer to stream podcasts with Spotify.

People often actively search for content – discoverability is essential.

72 percent of users actively and specifically search for new content for eBooks, audiobooks and podcasts. The customer journey primarily goes through search engines such as Google etc., as well as provider websites and apps.

Podcast use is focused, and podcast users are loyal listeners.

Around half of all listeners have only subscribed to one to three podcasts. Around 70 percent of podcast subscribers listen to more than 50 percent of their podcasts regularly – there is therefore a high degree of loyalty among listeners and/or users have a close attachment to the medium.

Smart speakers are becoming increasingly relevant.

Smartphones are the most commonly used device for playing audiobooks (72 %) and podcasts (76 %), and come in joint second with tablets for eBooks (36–37 % each), behind the classic e-reader (62 %). However, smart speakers are also already used by around 20 percent of audiobook and podcast listeners. There is still lots of potential here – smart speakers are a growth market!

“These findings are highly significant for all media content providers – because they show how content should best be placed. Against the background of consistent customer focus, the much-feared “battle for attention” among digital reading and audio media doesn’t exist in this form. Instead of responding worriedly to the diversifying media landscape, it is more appropriate to recognise and increase the potential there. Because there is a lot of it”, according to John Ruhrmann, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Bookwire GmbH and initiator of the report.

“Listen & Read: The Battle for Attention” is available to download for free:

Bookwire & “Bookwire OS – One Solution”
Bookwire GmbH was founded in Frankfurt in 2009 as a service provider for publisher distribution of eBooks and digital content. Since then, it has become one of the leading international businesses in digital publishing technology. Bookwire currently employs 70 members of staff in Germany, the UK, Spain, Brazil and Mexico, who take care of more than 1,700 publishers in the fields of eBooks, audiobooks and Print-on-Demand. The pioneering software “Bookwire OS – One Solution”, launched in 2019, has delivered, analysed and marketed around 500,000 eBooks and 60,000 audiobooks in all relevant distribution channels. In addition to the latest customer analytics and pricing technology, publishing clients of Bookwire GmbH also have access to individual support from account & marketing managers who continually look after the clients. The audiobook product solution “We Audiobook You” (WAY) bagged the business the first “Digital Publishing Award” in the field of B2B solutions, in 2019. Bookwire GmbH is managed by its founders Jens Klingelhöfer and John Ruhrmann, and operates branches in Barcelona (Spain), London (UK), Mexico City (Mexico) and São Paulo (Brazil), in addition to the company headquarters in Frankfurt am Main.

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Tel: +49-89-45 24 84 80
Email: bookwire(at)