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Audiobooks vs Reading – Is the Debate Really a Valid One?

Why You Shouldn’t Fall for the Audiobooks vs Reading Debate

A lot of people view listening to audiobooks as “cheating,” like they’re not really reading a book.

Okay, so technically, listening to an audiobook isn’t the same as reading a book. Listeners aren’t reading words on a page. Does that mean their listening doesn’t count?

To some people, that’s exactly what it means. There’s a huge audiobooks vs reading debate that’s been going on for years.

Those who are sticklers for reading books the old-fashioned way think people who listen to audiobooks

  • Can’t really appreciate the book they are reading or its nuances
  • Don’t remember what they read (so, why waste your time, right?)
  • Don’t have access to great books – the one that will enrich their lives and expand their horizons.

Audiobook lovers beg to differ!

To settle the debate, various experiments have been made to see if reading is any better than listening to an audiobook. Are audiobook critics just literary snobs or is there merit to their claims?  

Audiobooks vs Reading – Is One Really Better Than the Other?

Whether readers research technical audiobook vs reading or they do an audiobook vs reading Reddit or Quora search, they’ll find a lot of information out there on the benefits of audiobooks.

For instance, readers who do an audiobook vs reading Quora search will find comments like this:

“Audiobooks work better for me!” “Reading may be a little bit better than audiobooks.” “People learn differently. Books work better for me.”

Readers themselves have concluded that it simply depends on how a person learns. There are, in fact, seven different learning styles. One reader might read and retain better when they read the words on a page. Another reader, though, might retain more if they listen to something. Someone else might learn better by watching a video. It all depends on the makeup of each person’s brain.

What about those who are still convinced that audiobooks are not reading? Researchers have a different take. Here are just some of the arguments made against audiobooks and how they’ve been recently debunked.

Audiobook vs Reading Comprehension

When it comes to reading vs listening comprehension, it might make sense to some that reading the words on a page might make a lot more sense than listening to them. However, some people have a different take. For them, hearing the cadence and tone of a speaker gives the written word so much more meaning.

In some cases, though, listening doesn’t always equal better comprehension. The problem is often due to trying to multi-task. Most people listen to audiobooks while they’re doing something else, like driving, cleaning the house, reading a take-out menu, or exercising. Things are bound to get a bit jumbled from time to time when someone tries to multi-task.

For the most part, comprehension has more to do with how a person learns and whether they’re distracted than anything else.

Audiobook vs Reading Speed

The speed with which a person can finish a book depends, again, on the person. Some people think they can read faster than an audiobook narrator can read. Such a claim does have some merit as a person’s brain works faster than their mouth.

Does this mean that physical books are better than audiobooks? Not necessarily. One of the problems many readers face with reading a book is getting distracted. While the mind can work rather quickly, it can also get distracted easily. It isn’t uncommon for someone’s mind to wander, the result of which can reduce their reading speed since they need to go back and re-read paragraphs or even pages.

Listening vs Reading Memory

One of the big arguments against audiobooks is that people who listen to audiobooks won’t be able to remember what they’ve read.

A study has proven that argument false, though. Time magazine recently reported on a 2016 study in which some people read sections of Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken, while others listened to the same sections.

After they read or listened to the book, they took a quiz that tested their comprehension and memory. The study found that people were able to recall just as much from listening to an audiobook as they were from reading.

Again, what to keep in mind is that the question of comprehension and recall comes down to two things: Learning style and distractions – or the lack of it.

Audiobook Selection – There’s More Available Than You Might Imagine

Another argument against audiobooks is that people can’t get a good selection of books. Such an argument simply isn’t true. Readers can find nearly any genre and book they want in audiobook form. They can find books about:  

Readers can also find nearly any genre of fiction, including fantasy, sci-fi, romance, crime thrillers, and more.

Why Not Just Give Audiobooks a Try? Readers Might Be Pleasantly Delighted

When audiobooks first came onto the scene, a lot of avid readers denounced them as inferior to real books. Many of those readers never thought they would even try listening to audiobooks. As time progressed, though, some of them decided to give audiobooks a try. What was the result?

More and more people are becoming interested in audiobooks. Not only do they find them entertaining, but they also realize that audiobooks are educational and helpful. In fact, many young influencers on YouTube have shared their experiences with audiobooks, including

Even Forbes published an article titled 10 Audiobooks Every Entrepreneur Must Listen To. Audiobooks have proven that the audiobooks vs reading debates are finally over. Depending on the person and how they learn and retain information, listening to a book is just as good as reading it – sometimes even better.

For readers who have been sitting on the fence, debating whether they should give audiobooks a try, there’s never been a better time to listen to books. There is an abundance of audiobooks, with more being created whenever a new book is published. Why not give it a try?

Looking for the latest and greatest? Check out our selection of bestsellers. On any given day, you’ll find over 170 titles, which include fiction, memoir, self-help, and much more.

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