Talk to anyone about audiobooks for long enough and you're guaranteed to touch on the "paper books versus ebooks versus audiobooks" debate at some point.
Some people are pretty fierce about this—even going so far as to say that anyone who listens to an audiobook hasn't actually "read" the book at all. It doesn't count!
We'd never be so petty. But me, personally? I do prefer audiobooks over paper books and ebooks. And at the end of the day, that's what it is: a preference. Still, there are some very real benefits that come with the medium and not many downsides.
If you've never checked out an audiobook before, here are several reasons why audiobooks are better than "real" books.
1. Audiobooks Let You Multitask
You can't read a paper book or ebook while you're driving to work—at least without putting yourself in mortal danger. That's something that we at whatNerd absolutely do NOT recommend!
But audiobooks? You can listen to them while you're doing pretty much anything: while you're on a run, while you're cleaning the house, while you're cooking dinner.
On any given day, I'm listening to an audiobook for at least an hour or two, and I can only do that because my hands are freed up. The added bonus is that these menial tasks become way more bearable because my mind is occupied!
2. Audiobooks Have Great Narrators
There's an episode of Seinfeld where George mentions he loves books at tape (the precursor to audiobooks) because he hates his own voice. Then, hilariously, he happens to get an audiobook where the narrator sounds exactly like him.
Maybe you don't hate your own inner voice. Maybe you don't even subvocalize when you read. But an excellent narrator does more than just read for you—they lift the words off the page and paint pictures with voices, tones, inflections, and more.
A great narrator can turn a mediocre book into an engrossing tale.
Some of my favorite audiobook narrators include Kevin Pariseau, Stephen Fry, and the late Edward Herrmann. These are just a few, but if you spend any amount of time listening to audiobooks, you'll find plenty of your own favorites.
3. Full Cast Recordings Are Immersive
Some audiobooks go a step further than having one great narrator... by bringing in multiple narrators to play different roles in the story. This helps with keeping track of dialog, adds greater immersion, and strengthens emotional resonance.
This technique is most often used for fiction, but not always.
In the audiobook version of Beastie Boys Book, Adam Horowitz and Mike Diamond (plus a host of other narrators) handle various sections of the book, making for one of the most enjoyable nonfiction book reads I've listened to.
These may not be for everyone, but they take books further—almost bringing them into the realm of audio dramas.
4. Audiobooks Don't Hinder Learning
Those who say that "listening to a book isn't the same as reading it" often also say that you "don't absorb information as well when it's heard versus when it's read on a page."
On the one hand, it's true that we absorb information differently when it comes via audio than by text (or even video). But does it hinder absorption? No way!
A 2016 study showed that participants learned just as easily when listening to audiobooks as they did when reading.
That comparison was between audiobooks and ebooks (not paper books), so if you're reading this article in printed form while sipping your favorite brandy in a wingback chair, you may still sneer at the study.
Of course, not everyone reads to learn. If you're simply reading for enjoyment and relaxation, this point doesn't matter as much.
5. You Can Speed Up or Slow Down
Nearly all audiobook players and audiobook services have a feature that lets you adjust playback speed. Want to rocket through? Or want to slow down? You can do both.
This is great because different narrators have different narration styles. If one is too slow for you, speed it up! If they're too fast and you can't comprehend what they're saying, slow it down!
That's especially useful when listening to audiobooks in a language that isn't your primary one.
Not every type of book is the same. If you're listening to a classic work of literature, it's nothing at all like listening to a nonfiction biography. You may want to savor a story but zip through that biography of your favorite musician.
Try Your First Audiobook Today!
If you've never listened to an audiobook before, I hope you're a little more open to the idea now. If you'd still rather read with your eyes, that's fine. Like I said, it's all preference!
But if you're ready to try your first audiobook, you should consider the free trial of Audiobooks.com, which grants 30 days of unlimited access to their library and a few free books right off the bat:
Free Trial Deal
Sign up for a 30-day free trial of Audiobooks.com and you'll get to pick THREE audiobooks to keep forever. No strings attached.