by The Japan Times

The use of audiobooks is increasing steadily in Japan, providing a boon to the publishing industry, which is facing declining sales of ordinary books.

Audiobooks already account for 10 percent of book sales in the United States and Europe. In the U.S., audiobooks, which started as cassette tapes to listen to while driving, currently form a market worth ¥160 billion.

In Japan, audiobooks as cassette tapes started in the 1980s, but were limited to niche markets such as learning foreign languages and listening to rakugo (comic stories).

People in Japan shunned bulky cassette tape players because they usually commute by train, said Wataru Ueda, chairman of Otobank Inc., an audiobook distributor founded in 2004.

“The situation has changed drastically thanks to easy access (to audiobooks) via smartphone apps,” Ueda said.


Read the rest of the story at The Japan Times.