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Home Bibliophiles Audiobook vs reading: Which is better?

Audiobook vs reading: Which is better?

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Audiobooks vs Reading
One of the big debates among readers is which is better? Audiobooks or Reading? There are benefits to both. Read, or listen to this for more info.

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It’s well known that reading – no matter what type of books you enjoy – is one of the best ways to keep your mental faculties sharp. It’s also an enjoyable hobby and one that can open your mind to new worlds, knowledge, and ideas.

Thanks in no small part to technology and apps such as Audible, though, listening to audiobooks has become an increasingly popular alternative to reading print books. The question, then, is does listening to audiobooks offer all of the same benefits as reading traditional books? Are audiobooks just as informative, entertaining, and beneficial from the perspective of brain health as reading written text, or are they yet another way in which technology is ruining a good thing?

It turns out that listening to audiobooks and reading the written word both offer some of the same benefits along with several unique benefits of their own. To help settle the audiobook vs reading debate, let’s take at the pros and cons of each.

Audiobooks vs reading: Brain benefits

Research showcasing the brain health benefits of reading on a regular basis is wide-ranging and undeniable. However, research comparing the benefits of reading vs listening is much more sparse. According to professor of psychology and author Dr. Kristen Willeumier, though, there is good reason to believe that the reading experience provided by audiobooks offers many of the same brain benefits as reading a physical book.

In an interview published by Well and Good, Dr. Willeumier explains that listening to an audiobook or podcast activates many of the same areas of the brain as reading written text. While listening to books activates the part of the brain responsible for language processing and reading a book activates more areas responsible for visual processing, both activities engage semantic processing of information in the same areas of the brain. This means that audiobooks and traditional books can both expand your knowledge, improve your memory, and sharpen your mental faculties in largely the same way.

With the rise of text-to-speech and AI generated voices, listening is going to play a larger part in your life.

Audiobooks vs reading: Knowledge retention

Reading comprehension is a measure of how much knowledge you are able to retain from reading written text and is especially important if you are reading a nonfiction book in hopes of learning something new. Different learners, however, learn differently, and whether you retain more knowledge from reading or listening is ultimately a matter of personal preference.

One advantage that reading does have over audiobooks when it comes to knowledge retention, though, is the fact that re reading a section of text is much simpler when reading print books compared to listening to an audiobook. With a physical book or e-reader, you can easily read a sentence, paragraph, or page as many times as you need to. Doing the same while listening to an audiobook, meanwhile, requires a lot of rewinding.

Nevertheless, many people find that they retain information better when listening to someone else as opposed to reading it for themselves. If your listening comprehension is more adept than your reading comprehension, you may find listening to audiobooks to be the best way for you to learn new material.

Audiobooks vs reading: Cost and convenience

If you are looking to stretch your budget for new reading material as far as possible, e-books are your best bet. Audiobooks tend to be priced based on the length of the book, and especially long audiobooks can sometimes cost $50 or more to downloadIf you are an avid readerthe price of audiobooks can quickly add upWith a subscription to a service such as Audible, though, you may be able to reduce how much you spend per audiobook. Another great way to make audiobooks more affordable is to utilize text-to-speech software such as Speechify that is able to convert any e-book into an audiobook.

While audiobooks might be more expensive than e-books and print books, one of the biggest benefits of audiobooks is the fact that they are much more convenient. Reading and multitasking isn’t something that most people are able to do. Listening and multitasking, though, is much easier. Whether you are commuting to work, doing the dishes, or playing games on your phone, listening to an audiobook is something that can be done in conjunction with any activity or task that doesn’t require active listening.

Reading vs audiobooks: Enjoyment

Whether listening to the audio version of a book will be more enjoyable for you than reading it is a matter of personal preference. However, there are a few important factors to consider when comparing the enjoyment offered by both.

In some ways, listening to an audiobook can be more immersive and enjoyable than reading traditional books. A talented narrator is capable of replicating tones and inflections that can bring a book’s characters to life, allowing you to hear the emotion in their dialogue and creating a more immersive experience. Since listening to an audiobook also allows for multitasking, it’s a great choice for those who lack the concentration required to enjoy traditional reading.

However, there are also several reasons why reading may be more enjoyable for some people. Compared to listening to an audiobook, reading a book engages your imagination more. It requires you to voice all of the action and dialogue yourself in your mind’s eye, painting the scene inside your mind rather than having someone else describe it for you. There are also instances where a narrator is not able to fully capture a character’s voice.

While good narrators will exhibit a wide vocal range, even the best narrator might not be able to fully replicate all of the different voices in a book. For example, male narrators often struggle to replicate female voices, and vise versa. Some audiobooks solve this issue by having multiple narrators voice different characters in the book. However, these books are far less common than those voiced by a single narrator.

In the end, a good book is going to be a good book regardless of whether it is read or listened to. However, it’s still important to decide which type of reading is going to be more enjoyable for you.

The pros and cons of reading vs audiobooks

If you’ve made it this far, you already have a pretty good understanding of how the benefits of reading compare to the benefits of audiobooks. To reiterate, though, let’s take another look at the pros and cons of each:

Pros of AudiobooksCons of AudiobooksPros of ReadingCons of Reading
  • Allows you to listen and multitask
  • More expensive
  • More affordable
  • Physical books are not as portable
  • Creates a more immersive experience
  • Narrators sometimes aren’t able to accurately replicate all of the voices in a book
  • Offers a wider selection of titles to choose from
  • Multitasking while reading typically isn’t possible
  • Allows you to adjust your listening speed
  • Listening to audiobooks doesn’t engage the imagination quite the same as reading
  • Enables you to voice characters exactly how you imagine them sounding
  • Those with attention or concentration issues may have a difficult time enjoying reading
  • Ideal for those whose listening comprehension is better than their reading comprehension
  • Many people don’t retain knowledge as well when listening to an audibook
  • Makes it easy to re read sections of text for improved comprehension
  • Reading for long periods of time can strain your eyes


Turn any book into an audiobook with Speechify

If you enjoy audiobooks but are frustrated by their high cost and the limited number of titles available, Speechify is the perfect solution for you! With Speechify, you can convert any e-book, webpage, or other digital documents into clear, natural-sounding audio.

If you would like the ability to turn any e-book into an audiobook at no extra cost and enjoy both reading and listening alike anytime you choose, be sure to download Speechify today!

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