So perhaps you’ve stumbled across this page because you are thinking about making the switch and have the debate of audio books vs reading books going around in your head?

As published in The Guardian, “It was recently revealed that audio book sales rocketed by 43% in 2018, while those of print books declined (by 5%) for the first time in five years” Is this the sign of times to come?

Is reading a good old book all rather archaic now?

Is listening to audio books simply contributing to the disconnect that we are experiencing in the modern day world?

There are so many questions around this, and ultimately, everybody will have a different experience, so I will share mine with you in the hope that it may just help with your own debate.

The benefits

Let’s jump straight in and look at the benefits that I have experienced of both finding a good audio book to listen to, and also curling up with a great book:

Audio books::

  • Listening to an audio book allows me to listen at times when I couldn’t otherwise read, such as working out, walking the dog, driving.
  • They provide a great alternative to watching the TV.Audio books vs reading books
  • It allows me to fuel my mind with positive material. Admittedly, I only tend to read/listen to books of a personal development nature (reading fictional books is definitely something I’d like to do more of – I just always reach for the self helps ones).
  • It can help bring a book to life: You cannot pick up the tone as easily for example by reading, but pauses, tonation and emphasis can really help with this.
  • It is so easy to access a new audio book: Simply scroll through the library online, purchase, and boom… just like that it’s in your library and ready to go.
  • It is a great way to relax in bed at the end of the day.

Reading books:

  • There really is no better feeling than to sit down and relax with a really good book.
  • It is much easier to re-visit sentences or any areas that you missed through distractions or didn’t fully understand.
  • Reading a book is a better way to study as you are able to highlight/underline key bits that you want to re-visit.

It’s not all good though

Let’s keep it real and look at the points that I experience as the ‘not so good’ bits:

Audio books:

  • It is much easier to get distracted; Sometimes, significant time can pass by before I even realise that my mind has taken a trip on the m25 motorway and ended up in a completely different place to where I intended. I definitely find that you can get carried away with thoughts easier when an audio book is playing.
  • I tend to listen to audio books while doing something else (as mentioned above), I think I always feel I can’t just sit and listen, I need to be kept busy. I know that this can sometimes result in me not fully paying attention to what I am listening to.
  • You can’t keep an audio book as a memory/gift. Having experienced many firsts with our son such as first Christmas, birthday, being born etc, many people brought books as keepsake gifts. These will remain a treasure forever, you just can’t do that with an audio book.

Reading books:

  • Storage! I know this has no relevance whatsoever to what you ‘get’ from reading a book, but, we are not fortunate Audio books vs reading booksenough to live in a house big enough to house a library, therefore, the space we have for books on a bookshelf is fairly limited. Meaning each new book I find is very quickly taking up any spare room we have. What do you do once your bookshelf is full? If you don’t wish to get rid of the books of course: I always love referring back to them later down the line.
  • I can’t always find the time… Especially now I am a new Mummy! ‘Me Time’ doesn’t really exist at the moment, and by the time the day is over I am way too tired to think about opening a book.

Is there even a difference?

A study by Beth Rogowsky, an associate professor of education at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania “found no significant differences in comprehension between reading, listening, or reading and listening simultaneously,”

So when you take this in to consideration does it even matter what method you go for? Perhaps it would be more beneficial when thinking about this debate for us to focus on doing what we feel we gain from more and get more enjoyment out of rather than worrying if it is right or wrong?

So what’s the verdict?

Whilst many view audio books as cheating I would have to disagree! I personally think both have their place, each is best suited to a different purpose, and neither is superior.

For me, an audio book provides me with an opportunity to listen to something when I wouldn’t otherwise be able to read. I think that has to be the main benefit it provides me with. For example, if I had not of had access to an audio book I don’t think I would have been able to feel so confident and calm about one of the biggest things in my life: Giving birth. When expecting our first child, Hypnobirthing was highly recommended to me, but the reality of me being able to truly get confident and comfortable with not only what hynobirthing was, but also how to incorporate it via simply reading alone would not have been possible: I was working full-time, running a house, preparing for a baby, keeping a dog alive and happy, experiencing everything that goes with being pregnant, and trying to squeeze in as much as possible before life would completely change. I know that I would never have fitted in mentally or physically sitting down and not only reading, but studying a book. However, having access to the audio version meant every single day, twice a day whilst walking the dog without fail, I could listen to the book, tune in to the affirmations and familiarise myself totally with what it all entailed. And this, is what totally changed my birthing experience. So for that, I will always be truly grateful to having access to that.

That being said! There really is something that you get from picking up a book that you can’t from an audio, and if truth be told I think if I am looking for a new book I would always naturally choose one that I can sit and read and take in before I turn to the audio. Perhaps that will change as I try to move in to some fictional reading? Let’s see!

So I hope that sharing my experience has been of some benefit to you. I’d love to hear your thoughts, and answer any questions you may have so please feel free to leave a comment below.

Happy Reading, or listening! Whatever is right for you.

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12 Comments

  1. Hi! Nice article. I’m personally more of a reader. I don’t like to listen to a book and do something else at the same time, I’d like to focus on the content. With music it’s different. I can listen to music and meanwhile do a workout, write a blog or cook. But when it comes to understanding what is said, I’d rather not multitask. Only exception is yoga instructions or breathing therapy: I can listen to the audio instructions while doing what is said. I also find listening to podcasts or making a phone call during a car ride a difficult combination. It’s probably my brain, unwilling or incapable of combining the two. Looking forward to read the next article.

    1. Hi, I am definitely with you on finding it difficult to do something whilst understanding what is being said if listening to an audio book. I tend to find I am able to do it fairly well if walking the dog, but anything else and I question how much I take in. I think many people would say the same thing. I think the difference with yoga or breathing is that you are actively following and doing what is being instructed on the audio, so it naturally makes it easier to follow.
      Thanks for visiting the website.

  2. Hey,

    This is a really interesting post. I live in London and when we were on the tube every morning, you could see people either reading a book or listening to an audio book.

    For me, I love to read a book. I really don’t like audiobooks as they make me fall asleep. But, I can understand why people like audiobooks because of the convenience. Real books for me is more than just reading, it is the cover and the feel of the book in your hands. The smeel of new books too I love….strange I know.

    Thanks for sharing such an interesting topic. Keep up the great work on your site.

    All the best,

    Tom

    1. Hi Tom,
      I am glad you found the topic interesting.
      I think that really highlights the beauty of having access to both: People can choose what is best for them, and it means everybody has access to books in one way or another. I can absolutely relate to that feeling that you get of a real book, you can’t beat!

  3. I agree, I think both have their place. I usually tend to lean towards actual book rather than audio. However, audiobooks are leading the way with me when it comes to sleep – it seems an audiobook can send me to sleep without fail and when there’s lots going on in your head that’s a gift that can’t be underestimated.
    Great content. Keep it coming! ☺️

    1. That is such a great point about sleep, I have only ever really listened to meditation before going to sleep, but when you climb in to bed and feel too tired to read but would appreciate some switch off time, an audiobook is perfect for that.
      Thanks for the tip.

  4. I quite like this article, but I just can’t get with audio books – I like to have the radio on in the background when reading, because in some ways, it does help me to concentrate.

    1. Hi, glad you like the article. It is great that you know what works for you. That is the beauty: We are all so different so we definitely can’t go with a one size fits all approach.

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