Ranking the Bestselling Audiobook Genres

Can we compare audiobook genres by popularity?

This question often surfaces within the audiobook community: Which genres sell best? Experienced narrators and producers typically rely on their intuition to gauge this. Indie authors might anticipate a close alignment between the popularity of audiobook genres and that of eBooks. However, recent research indicates a mere one-third correlation between eBook and audiobook sales ranks. Thus, the question arises: Can we safely assume that audiobook genres reflect eBook or paperback genres in terms of sales appeal?

Finding the Data

Accessing data to compare audiobook genres poses challenges. Nevertheless, Amazon, the parent company of Audible, offers a comprehensive, publicly available source. Amazon publishes rankings of top titles by genre, including a dedicated section for audiobooks. These are categorized into three tiers: top-level genres, second-tier sub-genres or categories, and a third level of niche categories.

The categorization by Amazon, especially at the second tier, sometimes seems arbitrary, with notable overlaps. For instance, Science Fiction and Fantasy share a top category, while Horror is relegated to a second-tier category under Literature. Literary Fiction is tucked away as a third-tier category under Genre Fiction. Romance and Erotica are distinctly separated, a decision likely to spark debate.

Genre Classification Challenges

Book genres are inherently complex to quantify and segment. Many books blend multiple genres, making it difficult to place them definitively. For example, where does a shapeshifter love story belong: Fantasy or Romance? The bestseller “Atomic Habits” is another case, listed under Business & Careers, Health and Wellness, and Relationships, Parenting, and Personal Development. Notably, several books appear in multiple categories, sometimes ranking at the top in at least six different ones, such as the Harry Potter and Reacher series.

Data Analysis and Insights

Despite these categorization challenges, the available data offers substantial insights. By examining the overall rank of titles across genres, we can identify which genres house the most top-selling books. We analyzed the top hundred sellers in each top and second-tier category, delving deep into the rankings. With an estimated 650,000 to 700,000 audiobooks on Audible, these trends likely reflect broader market dynamics.

Comparative Popularity Ranking

Our analysis ranks genres relative to each other based on the combined overall rank of the top one hundred titles in each category. The top-selling genre receives a benchmark rank of 100. Subsequent categories are rated on a scale from 100 to 0, with higher numbers indicating closer proximity to the top genre’s sales rank.

The “Die-Off” Figure

We introduced the “die-off” number to measure the decline in sales rank from the tenth to the hundredth title within a genre. This metric helps assess whether a genre’s sales are dominated by its top titles or if lower-ranked titles also enjoy significant sales.

Conclusions

Our findings challenge the conventional wisdom that Romance and Thrillers dominate sales, with Fantasy performing exceptionally well. This suggests a reevaluation of Amazon/Audible’s categorization might be beneficial, particularly to elevate Literary Fiction and Horror.

We invite your thoughts on these findings and look forward to updating our analysis in January 2025.

Here then, are the results.

РTier One Categories  

Category

Sales Score

Die-off

Literature & Fiction

100.00

8.22

Science Fiction & Fantasy

92.14

13.14

Relationships, Parenting & Personal Development

71.34

10.31

Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

59.31

9.91

Business & Careers

38.25

7.68

Romance

34.64

9.31

Health & Wellness

33.57

9.33

Biographies & Memoirs

28.96

12.32

Politics & Social Sciences

23.20

6.87

Religion & Spirituality

18.22

9.21

History

14.44

21.99

Teen & Young Adult

10.94

16.91

Money & Finance

9.85

15.06

Children's Audiobooks

8.19

35.48

Comedy & Humor

6.57

12.66

Science & Engineering

6.51

10.97

Arts & Entertainment

3.25

9.84

Education & Learning

3.99

7.08

Sports & Outdoors

3.09

5.24

Computers & Technology

2.07

6.47

Erotica

2.51

5.29

LGBTQ+

2.38

6.41

Home & Garden

1.79

6.02

Travel & Tourism

1.22

8.02

– Tier Two Categories

Category
(Primary/Secondary)

Sales Score

Die-off

Science Fiction & Fantasy/Fantasy

75.25

14.19

Relationships, Parenting & Personal Development/Personal Development

65.25

11.38

Literature & Fiction/Genre Fiction

55.76

8.18

Mystery, Thriller & Suspense/Thriller & Suspense

55.04

10.22

Literature & Fiction/Action & Adventure

38.61

6.48

Science Fiction & Fantasy/Science Fiction

25.97

6.16

Business & Careers/Career Success

22.28

8.45

Literature & Fiction/Women's Fiction

21.50

11.05

Literature & Fiction/Literary Fiction

19.20

12.36

Health & Wellness/Psychology & Mental Health

18.54

9.22

Relationships, Parenting & Personal Development/Relationships

17.91

8.15

Romance/Contemporary

17.47

6.41

Mystery, Thriller & Suspense/Mystery

15.93

8.67

Literature & Fiction/Historical Fiction

14.15

6.80

Mystery, Thriller & Suspense/Crime Fiction

13.91

8.87

Religion & Spirituality/Christianity

11.14

7.26

Business & Careers/Management & Leadership

10.54

20.20

Literature & Fiction/Horror

9.92

5.68

Politics & Social Sciences/Politics & Government

9.51

6.47

Politics & Social Sciences/Social Sciences

9.40

6.52

Children's Audiobooks/Literature & Fiction

8.47

35.87

Literature & Fiction/Classics

8.15

16.83

Science & Engineering/Science

8.58

7.99

Teen & Young Adult/Science Fiction & Fantasy

8.25

18.21

Romance/Fantasy

7.05

26.88

Romance/Romantic Suspense

7.46

15.45

Teen & Young Adult/Literature & Fiction

7.96

18.34

Biographies & Memoirs/Entertainment & Celebrities

6.15

29.17

History/Americas

6.02

16.69

Relationships, Parenting & Personal Development/Parenting & Families

6.08

12.72

Romance/Romantic Comedy

6.71

8.32

Children's Audiobooks/Science Fiction & Fantasy

5.06

9.39

Religion & Spirituality/Spirituality

5.79

7.71

Romance/Paranormal

5.03

10.76

Business & Careers/Business Development & Entrepreneurship

4.19

13.47

Children's Audiobooks/Action & Adventure

4.36

10.39

Children's Audiobooks/Growing Up & Facts of Life

4.23

7.93

History/Military

4.61

5.18

Literature & Fiction/African American

4.84

8.11

Literature & Fiction/Anthologies & Short Stories

4.71

6.68

Literature & Fiction/World Literature

4.36

9.35

Money & Finance/Personal Finance

4.68

20.41

Politics & Social Sciences/Philosophy

4.89

12.99

Biographies & Memoirs/Politics & Activism

3.95

11.21

Biographies & Memoirs/Professionals & Academics

3.65

14.92

Biographies & Memoirs/True Crime

3.20

9.21

Biographies & Memoirs/Women

3.34

18.36

Business & Careers/Marketing & Sales

3.11

6.87

Comedy & Humor/Literature & Fiction

3.84

13.02

Health & Wellness/Fitness, Diet & Nutrition

3.55

9.42

Literature & Fiction/Literature & Fiction (Humorous)

3.62

14.73

Mystery, Thriller & Suspense/True Crime

3.12

10.77

Religion & Spirituality/Occult

3.28

8.63

Romance/Historical

3.15

7.57

Teen & Young Adult/Romance

3.38

10.02

Education & Learning/Education

2.36

10.66

Erotica/Literature & Fiction

2.50

6.11

Health & Wellness/Alternative & Complementary Medicine

2.83

5.41

Health & Wellness/Physical Illness & Disease

2.73

6.02

History/Europe

2.13

14.31

History/World

2.34

11.29

Literature & Fiction/Literature & Fiction (Erotica)

2.32

5.83

Money & Finance/Economics

2.00

11.17

Money & Finance/Investing & Trading

2.41

15.31

Politics & Social Sciences/Sociology

2.82

13.32

Religion & Spirituality/Religious Studies

2.15

6.70

Romance/Sports

2.19

10.89

Arts & Entertainment/Entertainment & Performing Arts

1.80

11.40

Arts & Entertainment/Music

1.46

9.08

Biographies & Memoirs/Art & Literature

1.17

8.71

Biographies & Memoirs/Historical

1.89

8.84

Biographies & Memoirs/Sports

1.22

7.41

Business & Careers/Workplace & Organizational Behavior

1.94

13.87

Children's Audiobooks/Fairy Tales, Folk Tales & Myths

1.53

23.98

Children's Audiobooks/Humor

1.68

3.07

Children's Audiobooks/Mystery & Suspense

1.18

4.46

Education & Learning/Language Learning

1.35

8.89

Education & Learning/Words, Language & Grammar

1.04

9.19

Health & Wellness/Addiction & Recovery

1.18

10.20

Health & Wellness/Aging & Longevity

1.51

21.72

Health & Wellness/Hygiene & Healthy Living

1.54

21.13

Health & Wellness/Medicine & Health Care Industry

1.26

9.91

Health & Wellness/Sexual & Reproductive Health

1.20

10.72

History/Ancient

1.02

12.20

History/Modern

1.96

6.94

LGBTQ+/Romance

1.82

4.72

Religion & Spirituality/Other Religions, Practices & Sacred Texts

1.76

7.36

Romance/Action & Adventure

1.04

6.56

Romance/Anthologies & Short Stories

1.48

4.17

Romance/Military

1.26

3.23

Romance/Multicultural

1.24

7.48

Romance/Romance (Christian)

1.29

4.12

Romance/Romance (LGBTQ)

1.59

5.57

Romance/Romantic (Erotic)

1.46

7.51

Science & Engineering/Engineering

1.03

7.83

Teen & Young Adult/Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

1.94

11.28

Religion & Spirituality/Buddhism

0.99

6.79

Computers & Technology/History & Culture

0.98

5.52

Children's Audiobooks/Animals & Nature

0.96

4.23

Health & Wellness/Children's Health

0.92

7.54

Politics & Social Sciences/Anthropology

0.90

15.25

Romance/Science Fiction

0.89

3.82

History/History of Religion

0.87

5.82

Biographies & Memoirs/Religious

0.84

7.68

Money & Finance/Real Estate

0.83

8.05

Romance/Clean & Wholesome

0.82

4.34

Religion & Spirituality/Judaism

0.81

7.52

Biographies & Memoirs/Adventurers, Explorers & Survival

0.80

14.79

Literature & Fiction/Literature & Fiction (LGBTQ)

0.80

5.99

History/Asia

0.75

5.20

LGBTQ+/Literature & Fiction

0.75

5.43

Politics & Social Sciences/Law

0.75

7.24

Romance/Westerns

0.75

4.31

Home & Garden/Food & Wine

0.72

6.54

History/Middle East

0.69

8.17

Home & Garden/House & Home

0.69

8.47

Home & Garden/Pets & Animal Care

0.69

6.55

Literature & Fiction/Essays

0.68

8.12

Literature & Fiction/Poetry

0.68

8.41

Literature & Fiction/Drama & Plays

0.66

4.83

LGBTQ+/Science Fiction & Fantasy

0.65

7.27

Biographies & Memoirs/Military & War

0.64

22.98

Education & Learning/Study Guides & Test Preparation

0.64

5.28

Arts & Entertainment/Art

0.61

5.08

Teen & Young Adult/LGBTQ+

0.59

5.17

Education & Learning/Writing & Publishing

0.58

6.99

Computers & Technology/Computer Science

0.57

9.92

Erotica/Sex Instruction

0.54

6.08

Literature & Fiction/Ancient, Classical & Medieval Literature

0.53

7.70

Business & Careers/Women in Business

0.52

9.13

Money & Finance/E-Commerce

0.52

12.36

Biographies & Memoirs/Cultural & Regional

0.51

7.03

History/Russia

0.49

7.71

Comedy & Humor/Performing Arts

0.47

10.09

Biographies & Memoirs/LGBTQ+ Biographies

0.45

5.52

Children's Audiobooks/Biographies

0.45

2.46

Home & Garden/Gardening & Horticulture

0.44

6.46

LGBTQ+/Biographies & Memoirs

0.44

6.98

Romance/Royalty

0.44

9.19

Children's Audiobooks/Geography & Cultures

0.40

2.92

Literature & Fiction/Literary History & Criticism

0.37

15.58

Teen & Young Adult/History & Culture

0.37

8.08

Children's Audiobooks/History

0.35

3.42

Computers & Technology/Programming & Software Development

0.34

5.99

Religion & Spirituality/Islam

0.33

6.71

Home & Garden/Sustainable & Green Living

0.32

6.31

LGBTQ+/LGBTQ+ Studies

0.31

4.59

History/Women

0.30

6.63

LGBTQ+/Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

0.30

4.32

Science & Engineering/Mathematics

0.30

12.64

Computers & Technology/Security & Encryption

0.29

7.66

Money & Finance/International

0.29

8.45

History/Africa

0.28

7.86

Teen & Young Adult/Health, Lifestyle & Relationships

0.27

4.19

Children's Audiobooks/Education & Learning

0.26

5.87

Children's Audiobooks/Religions

0.24

3.32

Religion & Spirituality/Hinduism

0.24

9.20

Home & Garden/Crafts & Hobbies

0.23

6.27

Teen & Young Adult/Biographies

0.23

6.15

Computers & Technology/Content Creation & Social Media

0.21

10.02

Biographies & Memoirs/People with Disabilities

0.20

8.44

Money & Finance/Corporate & Public Finance

0.20

22.60

Children's Audiobooks/Science & Technology

0.19

4.80

Arts & Entertainment/Architecture

0.18

6.55

Politics & Social Sciences/Archaeology

0.18

8.56

Money & Finance/Banks & Banking

0.17

7.74

Children's Audiobooks/Holidays & Celebrations

0.16

1.37

Children's Audiobooks/Music & Performing Arts

0.16

3.66

Health & Wellness/Beauty, Grooming & Style

0.16

4.32

Teen & Young Adult/Education & Learning

0.16

7.27

Teen & Young Adult/Politics, Society & Current Events

0.16

9.68

Biographies & Memoirs/Memoirs, Diaries & Correspondence

0.14

6.09

Money & Finance/Insurance

0.14

11.81

Religion & Spirituality/Atheism

0.14

9.35

Children's Audiobooks/Vehicles & Transportation

0.13

4.54

Literature & Fiction/Memoirs, Diaries & Correspondence

0.13

5.07

Children's Audiobooks/Sports & Outdoors

0.12

5.02

Computers & Technology/Data Science

0.11

6.21

History/Australia, New Zealand & Oceania

0.11

7.31

Arts & Entertainment/Audio Performances & Dramatizations

0.09

6.93

Children's Audiobooks/Activities & Hobbies

0.09

4.46

Money & Finance/Taxation

0.09

22.36

Arts & Entertainment/Photography

0.08

6.51

Teen & Young Adult/Religion & Spirituality

0.08

10.62

Children's Audiobooks/Art

0.06

4.92

Teen & Young Adult/Arts & Entertainment

0.06

31.05

Notes:

All sales ranks for tier two categories are expressed relative to both tier one and two categories. The second-tier category Genre Fiction includes the third-tier category Literary Fiction, elevated to tier two status due to its importance.