Books vs Audiobooks

Most of my friends, for different reasons, have joined the we-love-audiobooks club. I have tried it a couple of times, first with The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins, then with Game of Thrones, by George R.R. Martin. Both times I didn’t succeed. Without any warning, my mind went on thinking about what to do the following week, what my mother had told me the day before or what I felt like eating for lunch… My brain was doing anything but listening to the audiobook.


Mind diverging

The article Audiobooks: Are you ‘cheating’ if you listen rather than read traditionally?, by David Rothman, jumped in front of my eyes while I was browsing on TeleRead for a digital media/e-publishing news to write about.

In the article, Rothman explores pros and cons of audiobooks versus the traditional book. He also discusses whether or not listening to an audiobook rather than reading it traditionally is cheating.

I don’t see any reason for rivalry or cheating. The truth is that different people like different forms of media. What works perfectly for one doesn’t necessarily have to work for the other. I personally don’t switch a good, old friend book by an audiobook. It doesn’t matter who is making the voices on the audiobook; I have accepted that I have a hard time listening to audio and work much better when I read.

I don’t think that people who listen to audiobooks are cheaters. The same way people can skip a book and jump to its end, audiobooks offer the same option. To me, it’s not the format that the book is delivered that matters. All that matters is whether or not it’s a good story.


Book versus audiobook



5 thoughts on “Books vs Audiobooks

  1. I agree with you, books work better for me than audiobooks. I like books too, since, for example, you can always go back and read a sentence if you had trouble understanding it (which happens when working with particularly dense material), while trying to rewind an audiobook to the precise moment and sentence is slightly more difficult. Not just that, but the reader of the audiobook gives his/her own interpretation through the intonation used throughout the reading. I’d much rather search for interpretations myself, and different people have different readings of the same material. I also particularly hate having the readers’ voices as the voices of the characters, as I like to imagine my own. Audio may be more convenient, but I think books are much easier to use.

    • Fabiane Dos Santos Chinez

      I hadn’t even thought about the fact that whoever is the voice on the audiobook probably gives his/her own interpretation till you pointed that out. I guess that’s one more point for books 🙂

    • Brittany Greenway

      I love audiobooks! I download audiobooks from the library, put them on my iPod, and listen to them in the car. I don’t think of audiobooks as cheating at all. It’s just another way to enjoy a book. Nonfiction books are great to listen to, especially biographies. I highly recommend the audiobook version of Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton.

    • I try to stay neutral on the books vs. audiobooks debate since I am going into publishing as a career, but I do prefer books. I have only listened to a handful of audiobooks, and every time I have gotten distracted within the first few lines or I have actually fallen asleep.

      In my experience when I have a book I am holding it, turning the pages, looking at the artwork, and I can read for hours without getting bored. When I listen to an audiobook suddenly the option of multitasking while listening makes me very easily distracted. I have tried listening while cooking dinner and realized that I missed the last five minutes because my mind was trying to juggle too many things.

      I definitely agree about the reader interpretation! That is actually one of the main reasons I do not use audiobooks. I do personally view audiobooks as cheating because the story is being told to you instead of experiencing it for yourself. There is something much more personal about reading a book that is not there with an audiobook. The only exception I have is for the Harry Potter audiobooks read by Jim Dale. Jim Dale does a beautiful job at using inflections and creating different voices for all of the characters. Audible actually did an interview with Jim Dale on how he created all of the different voices:

      • When I was reading this post I immediately thought of the Harry Potter audiobooks too! (Or rather, books on tape at the time I was listening to them.) There’s the great debate of Jim Dale vs. Stephen Fry as which is the better narrator for Harry Potter… personally I think they’re both fantastic. Although I read the books many times as a kid, I also would listen to the audio versions. I consider them to be completely different experiences, but both equally enjoyable.

        The narrator really can make or break the book. There are times when I listen to an audio book and immediately wish that I had just picked up the book instead. The exception is for memoirs read by the author. It’s great to hear the author’s own words in his/her voice. I especially loved Bossypants by Tina Fey–hilarious!

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