There was a conventional notion that reading meant carrying a book in hand. However, as time passed, reading progressed, and we discovered new means of reading. Print books, e-books, audiobooks, internet platforms for serializing novels, and much more are available. All these multiple modes of reading have stirred debates between their respective counterparts. Print books vs. E-books, Whole novel versus reading in parts, many debates are ongoing in the present reading circles. The debate between reading books versus listening to audiobooks is a new addition to that list.
Reading Books vs. Listening To Audiobooks!
The traditional reading format has been tried and tested over the years and has almost reached a saturation point. The development of digital technology and the rise of platforms that provide an extensive choice of audiobook titles have contributed to the tremendous growth of audiobooks in recent years.
Audiobook platforms are also growing day by day with new features like, speed control options, seamless playing, sleep timers, bookmarks, highlighting options, and much more. On the one hand, devoted readers are reluctant to call someone a “reader” who hasn’t opened a book. On the other hand, non-readers have grown to appreciate books due to platforms such as Audible, Google Play Books, Spotify, and others.
📖 Book – Traditional Reading:
A book is a written or printed literary work published physically or digitally. Physical books are further classified into Pocketbooks, Paperbacks, Hardcover books, Coffee table books, Folio books, and more. A digital version of a written, printed, or illustrated literary piece is an “E-book” or “electronic book.” They are available in several forms, including EPUB, PDF, MOBI, AZW, etc.
🎧 Audiobook – Reading Redefined:
An audiobook is a recorded version of a book read aloud by a narrator or a group of narrators. It is an effective alternative to understanding the book’s content without reading the physical text. In short, Audiobooks provide an audio representation of the written material, making it convenient for individuals who prefer or need to listen rather than read or who enjoy the experience of being read to. Audiobook formats include CDs, digital files like .mp3, streaming platforms, cassettes, Audible Enhanced Audio formats, and much more.
Difference Between Reading Books And Listening To Audiobooks!
1. Format: Reading a book can be done in different formats like paperback or the digital version of the book. Reading involves visually processing the text or image on a particular page. On the other hand, an audiobook refers to hearing the book through an audio format where the narrator narrates the text aloud. Listening to an audiobook involves auditory processing, where the story or content is available in the audio format.
2. Reading Speed and Re-reading: Reading books can be done at our own pace. We can skim the pages or read them in detail at our convenience. Audiobooks can be listened to at a speed set by the narrator. Though we can speed up or reduce the speed of the narration, the narrator’s pace forms the base of the narration. When we read physical or digital books, they can be re-read as often as we want. Also, we can bookmark texts or pages for future reference or re-reading. For audiobooks, marking or highlighting the text is impossible on all streaming platforms. Some applications don’t have that feature, so we must repeatedly rewind to the desired portion or text.
3. Portability: Audiobooks can be very convenient for people who like to listen to books on the go. They can also be very convenient for people who are well-versed in multitasking. They can listen anytime while traveling, doing household chores, or any physical activity. But, we need to allocate dedicated time and space for reading books, physical or digital. Also, it isn’t easy to multitask while reading books. Also, when someone prefers to read books while traveling, they need to pick the appropriate type and size of the book, as bulkier books always take up space.
4. Language Learning: Reading can enhance language skills and vocabulary and helps in understanding the spelling of new words as the readers are in direct contact with the words and language of the book. Audiobooks can also improvise language skills by helping us understand the pronunciation of new words and enhancing our listening skills.
5. Costing: Audiobooks are comparatively more expensive than their counterparts. Due to their corresponding platforms’ subscription services/membership plans, they are a difficult option for budget-conscious readers. Therefore, they can opt for sites offering free audiobooks or at discounted prices. On the other hand, reading books is easier and more cost-effective than audiobooks. Though hardcover books are highly priced, people can easily find alternate options.
6. Familiarity with Reading: Reading is a familiar and enjoyable activity for hardcore readers. They can find reading a physical book or an e-book more relevant than an audiobook. Also, in the initial stages, book readers may find it difficult to follow with audiobooks because there is no way of doing a dog-ear, folding the corners, writing the name on the front page, writing points for references in the backside, and so on.
7. Genre Specification: Some genres, such as difficult research books that require frequent marking and annotation, may be clearly understood when read in physical or digital form. On the other hand, Audiobooks may be chosen for genres such as fiction, memoirs, and self-help books that are vague to read and simple to follow in voice-over.
8. Imagination: Reading enables readers to imagine the people, places, and things in their minds. This imagination is entitled to each reader and their way of perceiving things. While listening to an audiobook, as the narrator emotes all the emotions through their voice, it may be difficult to imagine the ‘voices’ in your head. But for some people, the imagination would kick start once they get the knack of hearing.
9. Focused Reading: For many people, staying away from mobile and picking up something to read is quite a heinous task. One can overcome the urge to pick up the phone when reading physical books or using E-readers like Kindle. Because most audiobooks are listened to via mobile apps or subscription platforms that are available on mobile, like Audible, Kuku FM, and Pocket FM, it will take greater self-control to avoid straying into unnecessary applications and keep focused on reading.
10. The “Hands-free” Experience: While reading is delightful, it comes at the expense of holding books in one’s hands for extended periods, resulting in hand strain. However, with audiobooks, one may easily place the phone in pockets or bags and continue listening regardless of the circumstances. Regarding additional strains, while reading causes eye strain, listening to audiobooks can create ear strain, which can occur if used for extended periods, resulting in a win-win situation for both.
11. Group Reading Sessions: Physical books can be particularly beneficial in group reading sessions when individuals can gather around a book and discuss it. For group reading sessions, audiobooks don’t work as well as books. Furthermore, audiobooks can be listened to by two persons simultaneously. However, unless they both read at the same speed, it can be difficult for two individuals to share and read a book simultaneously.
These differences are the most commonly observed differences between both mediums of reading. People who read or listen on both platforms can spot even more differences than this. Also, many people love reading books and listening to audiobooks, depending on their situation and mood. Some people even take pleasure in keep switching and experimenting between both these formats.
While others immediately choose the one that best suits their needs and ongoing activities. The decision between reading books and listening to audiobooks ultimately boils down to personal preference, reading atmosphere, and the unique advantages of both formats. Also, the ultimate goal should be to enjoy the book’s content and the process, irrespective of the medium.
What do you love the most, reading or listening? Do let us know in the comments below! Happy reading!
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