For some people, getting cosy on the sofa with a worn-down paperback is the best and only way to enjoy a good book. Are you even reading if you’ve not folded down the corners and got a cup of tea in hand?
However, a new competitor is on the block and it’s speaking to all readers – audiobooks. With nearly 74,000 new titles recorded last year, the rise of the audiobook is impossible to ignore. According to the National Literacy Trust, 44.3% of the adult population in the UK listens to audiobooks. So, is listening becoming the new reading?
In my opinion, physical books will never be replaced, however, audiobooks do have their place in modern society and are a great option to explore. Here is why:
Not having to carry a physical book around with you is the biggest pro of an audiobook. You can listen anywhere and everywhere at the touch of a button. You can keep an 800-page book in your pocket and take it everywhere you go. According to WordsRated, 45% of audiobook listeners like to focus on household activities while listening to audiobooks, like chores and other housework. Audiobooks allow you to fit reading into a busy schedule when you otherwise wouldn’t have time. Listen while you drive, commute, workout at the gym, or however you prefer to spend your time.
Listening works better for some people
A lot of people find it difficult to sit down with a book and read for long periods of time. I know at some point we have all found ourselves re-reading a page or even a chapter because we weren’t paying attention. Listening can be helpful to get people into reading who don’t enjoy doing it with a physical book. It’s also extremely useful for those with dyslexia and learning disabilities.
It helps the environment
Finally, of course, listening to audiobooks is paperless and therefore more environmentally-friendly. According to Commercial Waste, a single metric tonne of paper requires around 17 trees – an average of 59 kilos of paper per tree. If we assume that an average 400-page paperback weighs about 600 grams, one tree can spawn just under 100 books. An e-reader can help reduce the amount of waste going to landfill.
So, those are the pros. But what are the cons of choosing audiobooks over paper copies?
No physical collection
Many book lovers take pride in their collection and love to display all of the beautiful covers in their homes. With audiobooks, there’s nothing physical to show off. Going out to buy a book can be a joyous experience. I personally love spending hours in a bookshop, looking at all of the covers and finally deciding which one I’d like to buy.
You can get easily distracted
While audiobooks can be easier to follow for some, for others, you can zone out and miss half a chapter because you weren't paying attention to what was being said. Especially if you’re doing another task at the same time such as driving. By taking the time to physically read, it forces you to understand a bit better.
It helps you to escape
Most people listen to audiobooks while they’re doing other tasks, which can take the fun out of it. Reading is your chance to unwind and escape your daily life - this can be difficult to do when you’re multitasking. If you have the time, putting aside half an hour to read before bed while doing nothing else can help you get lost in the story and really take time for yourself.
Ultimately though, everyone is different and what works for some people will not work for others. It’s up to you to figure out what works best for you and run with it. Whether that’s audiobooks, physical books, or a mixture of both. Let us know in the comments which you prefer.
If you liked this post then read Why you should swap your phone for reading before bed or The history of the International Booker Prize next.
Maddy is a journalism student who enjoys writing about culture, entertainment and the arts. If she’s not reading a book, you’ll find her listening to Taylor Swift. She’s passionate about books that reflect what’s going on in society and lead us to ask important questions about the world around us.
Favourite genres: Contemporary Fiction and Romance.