The NAB Blog

The Growth of the Podcast

By Anthony Anderson

24 September 2019

Few people can have failed to notice the recent proliferation of podcasts in the market. A recent survey put the number of podcasts currently available at 700,000, offering a total of over 29 million episodes. There are now an estimated 86 million podcast listeners in the USA alone, with many other territories not far behind. The most popular overall theme for podcasts is music, closely followed by TV/Movies and comedy, although many of the most frequently consumed podcasts are based on true crime. But what is a podcast and how does it differ from an audiobook?

Podcasts have been with us since 2004. The name itself is a portmanteau word (pace Lewis Carroll) derived from ‘iPod’ and ‘broadcast’. Most commonly, podcasts take the form of an interview or a monologue on a given subject. In this sense they are most obviously similar to many radio programmes.

In general, podcast episodes tend to be relatively short – the most popular length being 20–30 minutes. This works well for many of us who are time-poor and want to make the most of periods spent commuting, in the gym or doing household tasks. The shorter length of this content contrasts sharply with the longer form of most audiobooks. However, like many audiobooks, podcasts can either educate, entertain or indeed do both. Research indicates that the wish to learn something new is the primary driver of consumption.

Our Mutual Friend (The Novels of Charles Dickens: An Introduction by David Timson)Podcasts tend to be fact-based (non-fiction) while most audiobooks are fiction. And, for the most part, podcasts are available free of charge (although there are ways for podcast creators to earn money from their podcasts), whereas audiobooks (normally) are not. As many people will have noticed from our website, Naxos AudioBooks has produced a range of podcasts, many of which are designed as introductions for some of our audiobooks.


In some cases our podcasts feature interviews with authors whose books we have recorded, although for the most part that is obviously impossible given the nature of our catalogue. However, we often offer discussion, analysis or an overview of the context in which the book was originally written. Our podcasts on each of Dickens’s major novels are a good example of this approach. Other podcasts will involve the actor or actors who voiced the audiobook and provide an insight into their approach to the recording.

These podcasts form an important part of our shop window, giving a flavour of some of our audiobooks to those who may not be sure whether a particular title is for them. Whether or not you eventually go on to experience the actual audiobook, we hope that our podcasts fulfil our overall mission – to educate and entertain.


Listen to our Naxos AudioBooks Podcasts

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