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Audio Books & The Internet

With the rise of the Internet, broadband technologies, new compressed audio formats like MP3 and portable media players, the popularity of audiobooks has increased significantly during the late 1990s and 2000s.

Digital audiobooks were a significant new milestone as they allowed listeners freedom from physical media such as cassettes and CD-ROMs which required transportation through the mail, allowing instead instant download access from online libraries of unlimited size.

The transition from cassette, to CD, to digital download has been documented by Audio Publishers Association in annual surveys (the earlier transition from record to cassette is described in the section on the 1970s).

The final year that cassettes represented greater than 50% of total market sales was 2002. Cassettes were replaced by CDs as the dominant medium during 2003-2004.

CDs reached a peak of 78% of sales in 2008,then began to decline in favor of digital downloads. A 2012 survey found CDs accounted for “nearly half” of all sales meaning it was no longer the dominate medium.

The resurgence of audio storytelling is widely attributed to advances in mobile technologies such as smartphones, tablets, and multimedia entertainment systems in cars, also known as connected car platforms.

Audio drama recordings are also now podcast over the internet.

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