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Audiobooks are excellent options for book lovers, particularly for longer titles, as people often struggle to carve out so much dedicated time from their days! When audiobooks first appeared, bibliophiles were dubious, but it’s hard to deny the many benefits of this digital alternative to reading.
More and more people are using audiobooks every day, and despite their slow start in the market, they have gained a lot of momentum, and will likely play a big part in the future of reading.
Going on a long road trip? Load up a hefty tome and get on the road, knowing that you’ll be entertained from Point A to Point B.
Specifically though, what are the advantages of audiobooks for modern consumers?
The History of Audiobooks
The history of audiobooks dates all the way back to the 1800s, when Thomas Edison invented the phonograph. He wanted to create a way for people to listen to books, rather than read them. This device could record sound on wax cylinders and then play it back, which allowed people to listen to music or speeches without being at the event in person!
Over the past two centuries, this idea has expanded in countless directions and technologies, from records, tapes and CDs to downloadable files and audiobooks themselves! Beginning in the early 2000s, audiobooks appeared on the scene, allowing people to improve their reading skills or access literature they would have otherwise been unable to enjoy, i.e., due to certain disabilities.
Audiobooks vs Ebooks
The primary difference between audiobooks and ebooks is the manner in which they’re consumed. Ebooks are digital versions of traditional books, allowing people to read books on digital readers, computers and mobile devices. Some ebooks also have the option of being read aloud by their respective programs.
Audiobooks, on the other hand, are recorded by voice actors or the authors themselves. These are also digital versions, but they are meant to be listened to, rather than read. These audio files can be downloaded to mp3 players, iPods, or computers and then played while you are on the go or doing some other task that prevents you from looking at a screen.
Many people play audiobooks as a form of background music or white noise, particularly if you want to block out other ambient noise. Importantly, audiobooks are often cheaper than ebooks in the long run, since you don’t need to purchase any additional tools, i.e., e-readers or tablets.
Both audiobooks and ebooks can be downloaded and stored digitally, so you can access them anywhere, even if you’re offline!
Disadvantages of Audiobooks
There are some downsides to audiobooks, such as poor recording quality or technical issues with the recording itself. It is also difficult to pick up where you left off in an audiobook, particularly if you are listening to more than one book at the same time. Fortunately, new apps like Overdrive are addressing this problem.
Even so, the benefits of audiobooks far outweigh the negative aspects.
Why Do People Love Audiobooks?
Nearly 93% of people interviewed say that they listen to audiobooks because it improves their quality of life, while roughly 60% of full-time employees say that they listen to audiobooks to increase enjoyment of their workday.
No Visual Distractions
When reading a traditional book or ebook, people must continually turn pages or look at illustrations, which can be a repetitive distraction. These small demands add up over time, particularly when reading a longer text.
Audiobooks are therefore perfect for people who want to consume a book while doing chores around the house, commuting to work, or going for a walk, without demanding that you physically engage or become distracted—and potentially lose your place!
Audiobooks are excellent options for people with vision impairments or other disabilities that make physically reading a book a challenge. Hyperplexia and dyslexia are common concerns for millions of people, and can make the reading experience unpleasant. Listening to an audiobook allows you to consume content without having to read it, and can be easier to understand than a page of written words.
For people who are constantly on the go, or have long daily commutes, audiobooks can help to pass the time in a safe way, allowing you to listen and learn simultaneously. Staying entertained during boring drives or menial tasks is one benefit, but they are also great companions while jogging, walking the dog, or running errands!
Portable in Nature
You can listen to audiobooks anytime and anywhere, without them taking up too much space! Hauling a stack of books on vacation or in your backpack can be annoying, but audiobooks take up no physical space, and can even be enjoyed in places without regular service to your devices. They are easy to download on any device, and offer a wide variety of genres and topics, rather than restricting you to the single book you chose to bring on holiday!
Audiobooks have been shown to improve memory and retention; they keep the attention focused on what is being said, but doesn’t prevent you from doing other tasks. The human brain processes information better in an auditory format, so enjoying the latest bestseller can also help keep your mind sharp.
Those who read traditional books know that squinting at teeny-tiny text, especially after a long day of looking at screens, can be an exhausting prospect. Audiobooks take your eyes out of the equation, are less likely to make you drowsy (via eyestrain), and don’t force you to hold up a heavy book or keep the binding open.
Reading Speed and Language Acquisition
The typical reading rate for an audiobook is 150 words per minute, which is the pace that an average person speaks. Some people are better able to understand a story when it is being told to them, especially if they are listening to something in their non-native language, as it’s easier for their brains to process spoken language than written language. Audiobooks are also highly popular in the ESL world as people learn new languages through immersive reading experiences.
Information Absorption and Retention
When you hear something, the information passes through both the auditory and emotional centers of the brain, which doubly reinforces the content for better retention and understanding. Listening to the narrator of an audiobook improves both your speaking ability and listening skills; listeners can hear the pronunciation of unfamiliar words to generally boost language knowledge.
Every book opens up a world in which readers can immerse themselves, creating their own interpretations and images of characters and scenes. In audiobooks, the narrator is essentially giving a performance of the text, helping readers bring these scenes and ideas to life with less effort.
Lugging around a heavy book to physically read can be quite inconvenient, and increases the chances of damage or loss to the book over the course of your day.
Audiobooks can often be accessed in a variety of different languages, making it ideal for people who may be more comfortable consuming a book in a language other than English. You can choose to buy a book in your native language, increasing enjoyment and comprehension.
A Guide to Buying Audiobooks
You can search and purchase a wide variety of books online, then download them to your phone, or you can stream them directly. Your audiobook library can be available via the cloud, so they are easy to access from any device.
Below are some of the best sites to peruse and purchase audiobooks:
-Apple iTunes Audiobooks
-Barnes and Noble Nook Audiobooks
How to Download Audiobooks
Step 1: Determine if your phone or device is compatible with downloadable books and download your app of choice.
Step 2: Check to see if your device has its own software for the use of audiobooks.
Step 3: Visit your desired websites to browse and download titles.
Step 4: Sign up for a website, set up an account, and choose your desired title.
Step 5: Check the sites and platforms often for new releases and offerings.
Step 6: Pick your title, pay for the purchase, and download the audiobook to your device.
Step 7: Sit back, listen, and enjoy!
Audiobooks are an excellent way to enjoy the wonders of literature and learn all sorts of new things. They are portable, convenient, and inexpensive options to help you pass the time during commutes, workouts, long walks, road trips or daily tasks. They are appropriate for all ages, and can even help to improve your language and reading skills, including focus, retention and pronunciation. If you find reading traditional books to be a challenge or a bore, audiobooks will help you access the world of books in new and effortless ways!