Why listen to audiobooks?

3 May


Having worked at AudioGO for a while now one of the most common questions I’m asked by friends about my job is ‘Why do people listen to audiobooks?’ I have to admit, this is a good question. Why would you listen to an audiobook when you could read the book or watch the film? After much deliberation and research I think I may have come up with some solid reasons why people would choose to listen rather than read or watch.

According to The Observer, ‘revenue for downloaded audiobooks has risen by 32.7% since last year,’ which clearly shows a sudden thirst for listening. It seems people want to revert back to that old nostalgic tradition of reading aloud. Remember those times at school sitting on the carpet listening intently to your teacher reading the latest exciting children’s novel? It was a time to relax and drift into your own world, without the pressure of having to take everything in. Doris Julian (age 70), a lady attending a storytelling session, remarked on how hearing the story read aloud “took me right back to being a child and being read to in the library” (The Observer). We live in a technological age where we so often have to concentrate on more than one thing at the same time. The audiobook gives us the chance to relax and unwind, whilst also creating enjoyment as we carry out life’s everyday mundane tasks. Speech, of course, was the means by which stories were conveyed long before the written word came into play. We should make an effort to honour this great storytelling tradition.

You can multitask when listening to an audiobook
Audiobooks can be seen as a saviour to the modern day multitasker. In the technological world we live in we are no strangers to having to complete various tasks simultaneously. We no longer have the time to relax for a few hours with a book, as that takes up valuable time. People often listen to an audiobook because it saves time and doesn’t put a halt to the daily routine. For example, Claire posted on our Facebook page saying “I can do other things while I listen and move from room to room or even leave the house and continue with the story, which you can’t do with a book.” Further to this, people have explained how they enjoy listening to audiobooks as they carry out their daily chores. The more engrossed they are in the reading, the cleaner their house becomes! Many people have talked about how audiobooks have helped them happily complete mindless tasks, as they can switch onto autopilot and let the story take them somewhere else.

They’re great to listen to on your commute
Now that Smartphones, tablets and MP3 players are the norm, we have a way of instantly accessing audio files. We can download a book or an album at the click of a button, anywhere. It is becoming more and more common nowadays to see commuters with headphones on and a glazed expression as they block out the hubbub of the city at rush hour. In fact, it is rarer to see someone without. It is not just music people are listening to now though; there is a rise in the number of commuters listening to an audiobook as they make their way to the office. It can become a satisfying routine to listen to a chapter of a book or a podcast on each leg of the journey, until it is finished. Audiobooks also give people the chance listen to titles such as ‘The Art of Succeeding at Interviews’, or other motivational audiobooks whilst driving to an interview or an appointment, allowing extra preparation and making good use of the free time in the car.

They give more people access to books
Why listen to audiobooks?Aside from these points, audiobooks have also become a great aid to people. They give blind people access to stories they might not otherwise have had access to. For many people they are a vast improvement over Braille books and are less time consuming. Another attendee of a storytelling session was quoted in The Observer saying “I’m dyslexic, so I prefer to listen to radio plays and things like that.” They are very accessible to people with reading difficulties, which is hugely positive. Who says interpreting a book is more rewarding when you read it rather than listen to it anyway? A lot of people say how audiobooks help with their insomnia as the readings can become almost hypnotic and eventually lull them into a peaceful sleep.

Kate Doyle


So, what do you think? Have I missed something? Do you agree/disagree? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this. 


4 Responses to “Why listen to audiobooks?”

  1. Betty May 3, 2013 at 10:27 am #

    If you download a series for example Harry Potter you can listen as a family while travelling. Also with the forthcoming film The Great Gatsby due out this month you can re-familiarise yourself with this classic novel in under 2 hours!

  2. Anna Lea West May 3, 2013 at 5:09 pm #

    I’m able to get through 2-3 MORE books per month because I listen during my commute in a big city each day. I absolutely CANNOT imagine life w/o them … one of my favorite things on earth 🙂

  3. Eoin (@scardis) May 13, 2013 at 7:26 pm #

    It’s also far far healthier then slopping out on a couch munching chocolate when you could be out and about eating up the walking/running miles instead engrossed in a great story.

  4. Jake Hope May 22, 2013 at 10:44 pm #

    The sheer aural delight of listening to language, the best words in the best arrangement read with panache. The immersive power of a narrative to sweep audiences along as, with eyes closed, a whole world constructs itself around them. The ability to transcend mundane tasks and journeys to experience other countries, cultures, times and identities.

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