Audiobooks were huge in 2018, with many outlets reporting double-digit year-over-year revenue growth in the format for the past two years. But exactly which audiobooks are audiences dying to listen to, and what do those titles have to say about the future of the publishing industry? Here are the top ten audiobooks of 2018, according to data from Audiobooks.com.
The top two performing audiobooks of 2018 were both in the self-help genre and come with mouthfuls for titles. Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are so You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be, by Rachel Hollis, earned the number one spot, with The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life, by Mark Manson, in second place. Wash Your Face was narrated by the author, while Roger Wayne narrated Subtle Art.
The third-place audiobook was one of the most interesting titles on the list: Becoming, a memoir written and narrated by former first lady Michelle Obama. Why? Because Obama only released the book on November 13, 2018, giving it less than two months to leapfrog over virtually every other ebook available. Not only did Becoming sell over 725,000 copies in the U.S. and Canada across all formats and editions in its first 24 hours on sale, but it has since passed up three million copies sold.
Political non-fiction titles were huge in 2018, even if only one other title in the genre was big enough to make Audiobooks.com’s 2018 list: Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, narrated by both Holter Graham and Michael Wolff, landed at number five on the list.
Number four was Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline. It was given a leg up thanks to a blockbuster 2018 film adaptation, just like another audiobook title in the top ten, Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians, which was narrated by Lynn Chen and reached eighth place. Cline’s audiobook, a nerdy power fantasy, was aptly narrated by Wil Wheaton.
Other titles include the sixth most popular audiobook The Outsider: A Novel, from horror maven and long-time highly paid author Stephen King and narrated by Will Patton; the seventh place audiobook, Lisa Wingate’s Before We Were Yours: A Novel, narrated by Catherine Taber and Emily Rankin; the ninth place title, An American Marriage: A Novel, by Tayari Jones with narrators Sean Crisden and Eisa Davis; and finally, the tenth most popular audiobook, You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life, both written and narrated by Jen Sincero.
The takeaways match what the rest of the publishing industry has seen as well. In 2018, self-help and political tell-alls were high performers, while Hollywood adaptations also drove sales for their source material.