Pros and Cons of Audiobooks

Image result for audiobooks cats

So, this is a discussion I’ve sent a lot of bloggers engaging in lately. Audiobooks have become a big deal to avid readers.

I remember, not all that long ago, the claim was that listening to someone else read the text wasn’t “real” reading, so bookworms tended to shy away from the format.

However, that narrative (pun…intended, maybe?) has shifted, and now the case is concretely this: Audiobooks totally count as a real way to ingest a written work. And those of us with massive TBRs are happily jumping on this bandwagon.

Just because I like to share my thoughts on these matters (and because I need a topic to post on, and since I’ve been sick recently, my brain is like scrambled eggs, and there isn’t a shell – ha! – of a new idea in there), as I’ve seen several blogs covering audiobooks in the last few weeks, I figured I’d throw in my two cents.

Pros, for me, of audiobooks:

They can be acquired through libraries! Since my book buying budget (for any format) is very tight, anything I can find via the public library for free is a valuable asset to my bookdragon ways.

Lots of genre selection. There are now tons of titles on audio, not just New York Times bestsellers who went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in Most Boring Literature (sorry, did I say that out loud?). So whether you like fantasy, mystery, contemporary romance, or biographies of famous dogs, you can find something to suit your fancy.

You can still get your chores done without sacrificing reading time. It’s 7:00 in the evening, and you have a terrible choice to make — give up the notion of conquering those dishes and waking up to a clean kitchen the next morning, or abandon finishing that book (that’s due at the library tomorrow). If you check out the audio version, you can do both at the same time!

Some stories hit you more when a practiced narrator is pronouncing the hard-to-read words. This is especially true for me with historical fiction and epic fantasy. Usually I duck out of reading such genres because I get too tripped up on not being able to sound out the nouns, and it’s really hard to not get frustrated when every other paragraph, there’s the name of that place or person again, and your inner voice goes from, “The horse threw its rider and galloped off, and the Duke watched helplessly as…A-r-c-h-samba?-er-let’s-just-call-him-Fred…plummeted into the gorge below.” I would so much rather have the lovely British voice inform me that the guy’s name simply sounds like Arksashy. Cool. Doesn’t throw me off the track of the plot.

Image result for audiobooks cats

Unfortunately, some cons:

Not all narrators are created equal. Sad to say, but not every audiobook you click play on will have an engaging reader. And there’s really no way of knowing this until you listen. Kind of like not being sure whether you’ll like an author’s style or not, and needing to open the book to know one way or the other. So you may get some duds on audio, too.

If you can’t stand headphones or earbuds (that’s me), you can’t listen whenever, wherever. Since having anything over my ears — and certainly in my ears — for very long drives me batty, I’m limited on when and where I can turn on my audiobooks.

Same goes for owning limited sorts of devices. We don’t have a bunch of extra money around my house, so I currently don’t have access to a smartphone, tablet, portable CD player, etc. That also prevents me from listening as much as I would like.

No matter how much you wish it, some titles just won’t be on audio. I think specifically of indie authors and small press. I know many of them are branching out to include audio, as the process is becoming more affordable and accessible. And while that’s awesome, self-published me realistically won’t have the money for audio versions of my books until probably after we establish that colony on Mars. So I get it (and kind of mourn it).

The in-betweens of audiobooks:

There is still no replacement for the magic of your eyes following the words on the page and seeing the characters come to life in your own interpretation. I’m somewhat a visual learner, and there are times when listening alone just doesn’t give me the whole picture. Often physically reading gets me more immersed, and feeling more accurate in my mind’s eye depictions of the action and characters.

It feels easier to “cheat” with audio. If you’re reading along, and the story or style is meh, and you skip ahead a few pages, to see if your impression has changed, you still believe (and many would agree) that you’re giving the book a fair shot. However, with audio, simply hitting fast-forward or next…through the equivalent of 50 pages…is far too simple. (Maybe the moral dilemmia of that is a discussion for another day?!)

In the end, audiobooks definitely count as reading, and for some of us, they’ll become the preferred way to tackle our TBR, and that’s all okay. While for me, audio will never overtake the physical text, it is still a format that brings alive storytelling, keeps you informed, and introduces you to new, cool stuff. So, if you haven’t tried this already, I do recommend it!

Do you listen to audiobooks? Why or why not? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

Image result for audiobooks cats

8 thoughts on “Pros and Cons of Audiobooks”

  1. I used to be totally with the “it’s not real readingggg!!” crowd, but then I (grew up a little and) started listening to them myself 😀 The biggest reason I like them is because I can multitask, like you said. Whether I’m walking somewhere, working, or just want to draw/color, it’s nice to do get things done and still follow a story.
    That being said, I only really listen to books that I think I’ll have less emotional investment in. It could be because I’m doing other things while listening, but I feel like I can’t get as into a story as if I read it.
    So I definitely am pro-audiobooks, but will be selective on the titles I personally listen to.
    ps. I hope you’re feeling better!! Also, did you see the month-long writing challenge Maggie Stiefvater is hosting?


    1. Yeah, for the multitasking factor alone, audiobooks can be great. Also for long trips or commutes (especially as a passenger). But, yeah, I can also see the value of choosing your titles carefully, depending on where you’ll be listening. (I once was caught driving through rush hour traffic with tears streaming down my face because of that specific issue, ha ha.)

      Yes, I did see Maggie Stiefvater’s post on the writing challenge! And, yes, I’m slowly getting better, thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. “Pulitzer Prize in Most Boring Literature” – YES! I’ve encountered books like this before.

    I recently discovered the joy of audio books. I grew up listening to a lot of audio dramas, so for a long time, audio books were a “boring” concept, but about a year ago, they became a joy! I like listening to them when I drive and when I clean. And I find it easier for me to listen to nonfiction rather than to stick with a physical copy.

    Hope you feel better soon!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great blog! I love audiobooks. Yes, having a smart phone is helpful as i use the app, Libby, to borrow audiobooks from libraries.
    I still do hard cover books too and kindle. I like the blend of audio and reading.
    I also love podcasts!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I LOVE audiobooks! But I definitely struggle with “not all narrators are created equal” eep yikes. I literally had a book ruined for me because I HATED the narrator so much. And I switched halfway through to an ebook and loved the book so much. So I know it was the narrator. but overall they make my life 😍I actually process things better via auditory, which is odd for a bookworm I guess? But I remember every bit of an audiobok I’ve listened to, even a year later, whereas I struggle to recall what I’ve read with my eyes like…days later. oops.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Audiobooks totally count! (to be fair, I thought this even before I got into them). Love your pros- especially that they allow for multi-tasking and are available through libraries. I do agree that narrators can be bad (recently I listened to this awful male narrator who for some reason made every woman in the story sound shrill and annoying- it literally made me cringe). I do think that I’ll always prefer reading physical books, but there are some stories that are really enhanced by audiobooks.

    Liked by 1 person

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