As a concept, the audiobook is certainly not a new one, with earliest vinyl-record versions being made as early as 1932 by the American Foundation for the Blind. However, advancements in digital technology over the last 20 years have allowed us to store enormous amounts of data in the hand-held devices that have become so ubiquitous in the modern world, which raises the question is listening the new reading?
This new ability to store and access information on the move had given rise to a surge in audiobook popularity, with as many as 46,000 new titles hitting the market each year. There’s no doubt that it’s a medium that’s here to stay.
The benefits of audiobooks are many, but some see it as cheating. Is that fair? Perhaps not, as you’ll find by reading on as we examine the question “Is Listening the New Reading?”. There’s nothing quite the smell you get when opening a new paperback, so how do audiobooks compare? Let’s dig in and find out.
Do Audiobooks Count as Reading?
Our answer to this question couldn’t be more emphatic, as listening to an audiobook shouldn’t be sneered at by the book-reading pseudo nobility. Not everyone engages with the world in the same way and audiobooks simply represent another medium on which to enjoy literature in all of its forms and varieties.
Does it offer a different experience – sure it does, but that doesn’t make it a lesser form. In fact, in many cases, audiobooks allow some of the literary greats to be enjoyed by people who might otherwise not be able to. Whether talking about visual impairment or a shortage of time, there are many reasons why a person may never get around to reading a book like A Tale of Two Cities cover to cover.
But what about books that educate us?
Do We Learn Better by Reading or Listening?
When we want to learn about something, you might wonder whether it’s best done via audiobook or by the written word. Well, around 65% of people are visual learners, meaning that they are likely to learn better when they’re reading from a book. So, for them, it may well be that reading is better.
However, of the remaining 35%, 30% are auditory learners, meaning that they’ll take more on board by listening to an audiobook – and that’s an awful lot of people! The remaining 5% is made up of Kinesthetic learners who learn best by being ‘hands on’ and doing the thing they’re learning.
Do we learn better by reading or listening? That really depends on what group you fall into.
The Advantages that Audiobooks Offer
It’s important to say that the popularity of books in audio form doesn’t necessarily have to come at the expense of the book reading world. Nothing could really ever replace traditional books, but relative newcomers like audiobooks offer something new, something different.
Despite their detractors, the benefits of audiobooks are many and they extend far beyond convenience, allowing an immersive experience with little or no effort from the listener.
5 Audiobook benefits include:
- More relaxed eyes – There’s no getting around the fact that listening to an audiobook is easier on the eyes, especially when talking about books read on Kindle-type devices. On average, most of us spend around 7 hours a day in front of screens, which is a lot of blue light that can result in disrupted sleep, eye strain, headaches and more.
- An ability to multitask – Unlike reading, listening can be done whilst engaged in other activities, like housework or exercising. People who might not have the luxury of a spare afternoon to get into a good book can enjoy all kinds of engaging literature whilst doing other things.
- Bringing stories to life – There’s no mistaking that reading a good book allows your imagination to bring the story to life, but so can audiobooks. What’s more, they allow you to listen to the classics read by your favourite actor – like Benedict Cumberbatch reading The Hound of the Baskervilles and some titles feature multiple voices that really offer a 3 dimensional quality to the tale being told.
- Improved Literacy Skills – A study has shown that audiobooks are extremely useful for anyone with learning difficulties and for people learning English as a second language. Continued use of auditory content of this kind is said to help improve reading ability and literacy skills and allow fluency that much sooner.
- Building listening skills in children – It’s also known that when young people listen to audiobooks, they help to build vocabulary, literacy, fluency and overall language acquisition. Reading does this too of course, but not as effectively during a child’s earliest years.
The benefits of audiobooks are numerous and all this comes with no discernable difference in what you gain from the process. Information published in the Journal of Neuroscience has shown that audiobooks offer the same mental stimulation as reading for yourself.
After analysing brain scans of people reading and comparing them against those of others enjoying audiobooks, researchers found that the same areas lit up, regardless of what medium was being used. Official evidence that audiobooks are just as stimulating as their paper-based counterparts.
Try Out an Audiobook Today & See For Yourself!
So, there you have it – conclusive proof that audiobooks represent a medium that’s very much comparable with traditional books. Is listening the new reading? We prefer to think of it simply as a different way to engage with literature. Rather than being a competitor to the written word, audiobooks should be seen for what they are – an enjoyable alternative that adds to what literature offers, as it makes it even more accessible to the masses than ever before.
The benefits of audiobooks are there for all to see, so if you haven’t yet tried one out for yourself, why not do so today and see what all the fuss is about. There is a wide selection available on our website that can be enjoyed for free and you can be listening to one within just a few seconds.