Audiobooks gaining popularity in India

Last Updated: Jan 10, 2011, 13:30 PM IST

New Delhi: For their ability to reach out to people who cannot read and for those who want to multitask in modern day busy lifestyle, audiobooks in India are slowly getting popular, though the industry is still in its infancy.

Audiobooks have been popular among children but now famous books and novels are being converted into this format for adults too.

"Audiobooks are more effective than other type of books. The listener feels connected and the learning and understanding is more in an audiobook than a normal book," says Abhilash R, Business Development Head,, an online portal for audiobooks.

"You can not read a book while jogging but you can listen to a book. Audiobook is like a companion. It`s also called university on wheels," adds Abhilash.

Apart from targeting the people who can not read, audiobooks can also be handy for older people whose eyesight keeps getting worse with age. Also, they are environment friendly as they do not use ink and paper.

"The element of narration, music and drama make an audiobook interesting than reading a normal book. Its a new experience which will revolutionise the market in future," says Kunal Pancholi, co-founder of, a company dealing in audiobooks.

Though there is much talk about ebooks but audiobooks are more effective, specially for learning and suitable to today`s hectic lifestyle, says Pancholi.

About a month ago, test launched the current bestseller, "The Immortals of Meluha" by Amish and "The Art of War" by Sun Tzu as audiobooks at various stores in India.

"We have been quite surprised and overwhelmed with the positive response that we have received and are about to launch other audiobooks that include "Peter Pan," "The Hound of Baskerville" and "Chanakya Neeti"," says Pancholi.

Presently the sale of audiobooks is done mainly online mainly and less by retail. Abilash says audiobooks are around one per cent of the total books market in India but their sales is expected to go up in the future.

"Audiobooks have a very niche market now. With proliferation of technology, their sales will increase in future. Also, people need to be educated about their uses," says Pancholi.

The price of an audiobook takes into consideration the factors like music, artist who has narrated the book and the company profile. Normally, the cost starts from Rs 300.

The voiceover of the narrator is very important to keep the listener interested in the book. A drab and dull narration can kill the interest.

However, publishers have a different view on audiobooks.

"The major problem why publishers are not going into audiobook market with full force is sales tax. There is sales tax on audibooks. Also, different states have entry tax that further increases our burden," says Rohit Gupta, owner of Pustak Mahal.

He says it becomes a burden to arrange for voiceover artists, narration and music. Thats why, publishers are tying up with companies that deal in audiobooks and have good narrators with them.

"Books are not taxable but audiobooks are. The government should keep books and audiobooks in same category. After all, knowledge should not be taxed," says Abhilash.