What do you do today when it comes to a book? Do you read a book or do you listen to an audiobook? The world is changing fastly and so are the ways we consume content – useful or useless is out of the debate now. The invention or rather innovation of making a book audible is new, not so new though. People are loving it and others are not liking it as well. Many people and many choices. I am throwing my hat(s) in the ring as well. So, here is my opinion on audiobooks vs printed books? Which one to have – an MP3 file or a book with pages that we have been loving all the way?
It is all about rough-textured pages, the musky smell, the hardcover coloured jacket, printed words, and the sound of pages’ turning. Whenever we think about a physical book, these thoughts grab our attention automatically. It is quite obvious! We grew up surrounded by books. However, the so-called digital era has changed everything by three-sixty degree. Going to libraries and the Sunday book markets, look for engaging titles, buying half-a-dozen of titles, maybe more, at one go, and exchanging them amongst friends are a thing of old days. Thanks to the digital world! It has not only to change the way we used to buy and read books but also making available myriad ways in which we can read as well as listen to a book.
Lately, audiobooks, an art form of its own kind and a blessing of technological advances, are having a moment. As they soar in popularity, they are becoming increasingly creative and more and more engaging. Amidst the rising popularity of audiobooks, here are four major challenges you being a bookworm may be facing.
Multitasking – How interesting the idea sounds that we can read and drive together. Or, we can read and eat together. Or, we can read and play or go to the gym together. But, does this idea actually as simple and enjoyable as it feels? Certainly, it is so COOL! Audiobooks give us the liberty to listen to a book and perform routine chores simultaneously. However, by listening to a book, are you doing justice with the book as well as with its author?
As far as audiobooks are concerned, there is a huge possibility of shifting focus. Because, along with listening to a book, you are also occupied in doing something else too. This may result in you losing the original essence of the book and remain clueless about it. In spite of it being a good book, you may not refer it to anyone. Moreover, a book is just not for passing time or an alternative source of entertainment. It has much important information or unique ideas which may change your perspective and lead you to a better life. Also, it may take you out from the pool of problems, in which you are slowly sinking in, by showing you some solutions. But, listening to a book while you are engaged in some other task may snatch these opportunities from you.
Tough Texts – Some genres are easy to understand. Even if you have missed a portion of a book, you don’t need to put efforts to take a hold of it. It is easy. For instance, romantic fiction. But, books which contain technical information, formulas, figures, pieces of evidence, arguments and information of the various kind, make listening to them complicated. As it seeks complete attention of a listener. Furthermore, it is extremely difficult to retain and remember all the relevant information, especially when you are listening to a book. So, listening to those books may leave you frustrate and compel you to stop listening to them. On the contrary, in case of a physical, you can flip through pages, again and again, take note of points which you feel are important and record them forever. This further makes it feasible to refer and share this information conveniently, whenever required.
Language Learning – While listening to a book you can enjoy the characters, situations in which characters are into, their social and physical appearances, and above all the overall context of the story. Listening to a book gives pleasure to your ears. It gives immense pleasure when voiced in the original voice of characters (in the case of biographies). But does listening to a book, in any manner, help you improve your language skills? No! It is a well-known fact with which we all are aware that reading plays a very important role in learning language skill. Since childhood, parents and teachers invariably insist on children develop reading habits. Reading more and more books help you develop a relationship with words, phrases, grammar and the structure of sentences. And this familiarity with the different aspects of a language results in your strong command over the language.
Foundational Reference – Imagine it; while listening to a book, you like specific details about any specific character or point or topic and you feel like sharing those with your friends, how will you do it? Will you transcribe those details? How much time will it take? What if, the discussion lasts for 20 to 30 minutes? What if, as the story proceeds further, the discussion about the same character or point or topic comes up again from a different perspective? Will you share multiple timecodes of the clipping then?
Reviewing a Book – Don’t you read books so that you can review those and tell others your experiences? If you are a book critic, audiobooks are never for you! Reviewers often like to read and re-read any special chapter that attracts them the most. In such cases, I am sure, no reader would love to listen to an audiobook and then rewind and forward continuously to understand that particular chapter in the book again and again. No underlining, no highlighting, no classy bookmarking… that would make the task difficult even for the readers writing for leading book review websites in India.
Have you ever thought of or ever heard of anyone giving references of any sort of information, which a book contains, in minutes and seconds? How impractical and foolish the idea it is? This is one of the major hitches an audiobook has.
Aforementioned are a few downsides of listening to a book. Other than these, listening to a book for long hours may affect your health. Eventually, it is all about individual preferences, from the available mediums – paperbacks, e-books, and audiobooks. And how much time you can take out from your hectic schedule to read a book. If you are a bookworm and running short of time, an audiobook best suits to you.
Written by Nidhi for The Last Critic