Google+ Reading Teen: Reading An Actual Book vs. Listening To Audiobooks by Kevin Gannon

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Reading An Actual Book vs. Listening To Audiobooks by Kevin Gannon

Since the creation of audiobooks in the early 20th century, there have been long-winded debates between those who passionately favor the medium and those who fervently do not. Those conversations became more interesting and commonplace in the '80s, when the industry for audiobooks absolutely boomed and revenue started reaching well past the billion-dollar mark.

Those same spirited arguments continue to take place today, as you might know yourself, even as the publishing industry shifts toward people using e-readers and tablets to get their reading fix. You still have people who claim that reading an actual book is more beneficial that simply listening to it unravel through your headphones. But the truth is that there are pros and cons to both approaches and I wanted to take a good look at them today in this post. The way that this will work is that I'll put the pros for each medium head to head and they'll naturally showcase the positives and negatives of each medium.

You can listen to an audiobook almost everywhere

Clearly, one of the best parts about an audiobook is that you can dive into a narrative pretty much anywhere you want. For example, you can't read while you're driving, right? You better not be doing that! Anyway, the only physical limitations of audiobooks are the ones presented by nature, like if you try to listen to one as you're relaxing in a pool or hot tub. Of course, you can't really read a book in either of those spots if you're fully submerged, either, but...

You can read in places where you can't listen

Face it: You're not going to bring you smartphone with you in the pool when you're trying to relax. Those things, and the headphones you'll need to listen, are just too expensive to risk any water damage. But a book? No problem! Just throw a raft in the pool and get your reading in without any worries. You could listen to an audiobook through a wireless speaker if you really wanted, but that would just annoy anyone in the vicinity of your relaxation spot.

You can really "get into" the story with audiobooks

If you purchase an audiobook that's being read by someone with a powerful, gripping voice, chances are that you're going to get more from it than simply reading. This is especially true when it comes to the more emotional portions of a piece, as emphasis will be put on certain words, moments, etc... that you would have to otherwise have to fully imagine in your mind. And if you're doubtful of this, head over to the Airship and read their lineup of the 10 Greatest Audiobook Narrators. That'll definitely put things into perspective.

There's more creativity for the reader with books

As great as it can be listening to someone be emotive and bring feeling to the words on the page, sometimes you just want to be able to do that yourself. For some, envisioning everything that happens in a book on your own terms is what makes the experience better than, say, watching a film adaptation or listening to an audiobook.

All you need is your audio player and headphones for an audiobook

This pro for audiobook users is particularly crucial for those who travel frequently, whether it's by train or plane. As outlined by this handy guide, just grab a good pair of headphones and throw them on during your trip to get back into the story. You also won't have to carry around the book and worry about it getting lost or damaged. Not only that, but you literally have as many books at your fingertips as your listening device can hold.

You're more likely to focus on the story and the story only

As great as audiobooks can be for convenience and space-saving purposes, they can lead to distractions during the "reading" process. Let's say you listen to them on your phone. What happens when someone calls? Or texts? Or updates their Facebook page? You're going to get distracted and potentially miss a portion of the story. But if you have a book? All you need is to set your phone to silent and you're all set. Also, as great as it is to have a billion books at your disposal, you're only going to listen to one of them in a single sitting, right?

Well, as you can probably tell at this point, arguments on this topic can go on for hours if you're not careful. In the end, you're just better off giving both approaches a spin and seeing what works best for you. But if you are the type that likes getting into these debates, maybe you should head over to Bookriot and keep it going over there or in the comments section below this very post. I'm excited to see what you as fellow book lovers have to say about this subject. Just make sure to keep the conversation friendly and light, k?

~ Article written by Kevin Gannon who is a recent college graduate with an English degree. His passion for books extends beyond merely reading anything he can get his hands on, because he also ravenously studies the publishing industry and its latest trends.


  1. I got into listening to audio books last year. Now I'm addicted. I find that a great narrator can really heighten the story and help to grab and hold my attention. That being said, I have also come across otherwise great books that were slaughtered by a monotone narrator. It's a hit and miss business, even for those who love the medium.

  2. I agree Keri, have you tried Harry Potter series read by Jim Dale? He is an amazing narrator and does each voice very well. Same with The Tiger's Curse series.

  3. I canNOT listen to audio books for the life of me. I've tried so many of them, and it just doesn't work. I think it's because I find myself needing to do something else while I'm listening, so I'm not just...awkwardly laying in bed staring at the wall. And then I get too focused on my new task, and wind up missing half the story. Blegh. Really interesting post though, I liked the points on each option.


    1. Danie, I agree with you. I could never just lay in bed and stare at the ceiling while listening to audio. My favorite times are when I'm driving, cleaning my room, cooking and my daughter falls asleep to harry Potter very night. Audio is actually a great way for babies to sleep peacefully and absorb something worth while as well. Again, start with something fun like HP or The Tiger's Curse series.


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