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Do audiobooks count as reading?

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Do audiobooks count as reading? Let’s solve this mystery by highlighting the differences between these two formats.

Do audiobooks count as reading?

Listening to audiobooks may have become one of your favorite activities. Even though they’re not the same as the written word, they enable you to absorb the content in a unique way.

However, one question remains – does listening to an audiobook count as reading? Let’s get to the bottom of this question and explore why some consider listening to audiobooks a form of reading while others don’t.

The case for audiobooks counting as reading

There are significant differences between audiobooks on Audible and their written counterparts. Still, many audiobook listeners and other professionals believe audiobooks are a form of reading. Here are their arguments:

You experience the entire book

Audiobooks and physical copies don’t provide the same experiences. But while the experiences are different, you still absorb the same content. 

In fact, you’re less likely to put down an audiobook because many believe it’s more immersive than its written counterpart. Many engaging narrations and well-read titles grip your attention from the get-go.

Some platforms, like Speechify and Amazon’s Goodreads, also allow you to customize the rate and tone of speech. It makes for a more enjoyable session so that you can experience the book in a more convenient format.

Audiobooks can teach language and punctuation skills

Another reason people consider audiobooks a type of reading is that they can teach you language and punctuation skills.

For instance, suppose you’re a dyslexic person or suffering from other disabilities. You may have trouble decoding the written word, leading to lower reading comprehension.

A good book in an audio format can solve the problem. Some apps display the text on your screen while narrating the content to help you match sounds to their corresponding letters. Over time, this can help enhance your language skills and let you overcome reading challenges.

Listening requires the same amount of attention as reading

Understanding an audiobook requires the same focus as comprehending physical books. You must still listen to your content word-for-word to make out the narrative. Even if you fail to hear a few sentences, you might not understand the entire book.

Audiobooks and reading stimulate the same parts of the brain

There are more similarities between podcasts or audiobooks and printed books. One of them is that they activate the same regions of the brain.

More specifically, both activities target the areas of the brain that are responsible for language processing. If you’re an avid reader or learner who needs to complete a book project, you can expect about the same retention from both mediums.

You still form sentences and imagery in your head when listening

Digesting stories works differently with audiobooks. Nonetheless, you use similar skills to understand the content. You form sentences inside your head to create images of the narrative. The only difference is that it comes from another medium.

Studies show there is no difference in comprehension

You may stick to physical sci-fi books from your reading list because you’re not used to the spoken word. Furthermore, you might think you won’t comprehend the matter to the same extent as with physical copies. The reality is entirely the opposite.

If listening to audiobooks for leisure, the amount of content you can understand typically overlaps with retention gained through reading. The reading time might be lower than the time it takes to comprehend a book through listening, but the effects are pretty much the same.

In fact, you might even understand the audio content if physical copies require multiple re-readings.

The case against audiobooks counting as reading

Few traditional book lovers think audiobooks are the same as reading. They use several arguments to support their case.

You don’t have to use your reading skillset with audiobooks

You don’t have to worry about making out individual words or phrases when listening to an audiobook. Therefore, you can enjoy the content, even with impaired reading skills. That’s why some bookworms consider the audio version a form of “cheating.”

Some argue that listening defeats the purpose of physically reading

You may want to read a great book for many reasons. For instance, you might want to help prevent cognitive decline, improve emotional intelligence, and enhance your brain connectivity. All of which are fundamental purposes of physical reading.

Critics of audiobooks use this argument to differentiate the spoken word from the written word. As you don’t have to use the same skills as with reading, you’re defeating the purpose of the traditional reading experience.

Audiobooks don’t require the act of decoding

You rely on two major processes to understand books when reading a new book featured on social media platforms and in book clubs – language processing and decoding. The latter involves comprehending the written word.

Since audiobooks include no decoding, many individuals don’t consider them a form of reading.

Enjoy audiobooks with Speechify

Even though you can argue against audiobooks counting as reading, the arguments for them are more compelling. Hence, there’s no reason you shouldn’t consume your favorite books in this format.

The only problem is choosing the right platform, but there’s an intuitive and highly effective solution – Speechify audiobooks. There are thousands of fascinating titles on Speechify, such as Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Dune, Atonement, and The Alchemist.

You can even listen to them while working out or folding laundry, making Speechify ideal for multitasking. Check out this cutting-edge platform today, and get your first Speechify audiobook for free.


Do audiobooks work as well for memory as reading?

Yes. Audiobooks can work just as well as physical books in terms of memorizing content.

Do audiobooks count toward reading goals?

Audiobooks can help you achieve the same goals as reading physical books. You can experience the same content you would while reading physical copies but in a much more convenient format.

Can audiobooks replace reading?

Audiobooks can replace reading if you have a learning disability that keeps you from understanding the written word.

Can I say I read a book if I listened to it?

Absolutely. Many studies indicate that reading and listening have the same effects, so you can confidently say you’ve read a book if you’ve only listened to it.

Is it okay to listen to an audiobook instead of reading it?

Yes. Many people prefer listening to audiobooks instead of reading them.

Do I have to read the whole book in order to say I read it?

In most cases, you don’t have to read the whole book, but you should if you want to avoid missing key points.

Cliff Weitzman

Cliff Weitzman

Cliff Weitzman is a dyslexia advocate and the CEO and founder of Speechify, the #1 text-to-speech app in the world, totaling over 100,000 5-star reviews and ranking first place in the App Store for the News & Magazines category. In 2017, Weitzman was named to the Forbes 30 under 30 list for his work making the internet more accessible to people with learning disabilities. Cliff Weitzman has been featured in EdSurge, Inc., PC Mag, Entrepreneur, Mashable, among other leading outlets.