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Audio Book vs Reading: Which is better?

Audio Book vs Reading

In a world where stories come alive through printed words and spoken narratives, a fierce debate has captivated book lovers: audio books vs. reading. Which medium reigns supreme in the realm of literary immersion?

It may be a surprise, given that reading was historically the dominating ability, yet listening is equally efficient and productive. Historically speaking, hearing has been around for a lot longer than reading has. It’s a talent that’s existed ever since the beginning of time. It is projected that the worldwide market for audio books will grow to $3.50 billion in 2020, with sales surpassing those of eBooks for the first time in the United States at $1.2 billion. In response to the rising popularity of audio books, many writers and publishers have made their works available in audio book format so listeners may enjoy them at their convenience.

But What is an Audio book?

An audio book is a recording of a book read by a professional narrator, often made available for digital download. Most people get them from online audio book stores or subscription services and listen on their phones. In 1932, the American Association of the Blind issued 15-minute adaptations of classic stories to make them more accessible to visually impaired persons. This marked the beginning of the modern audio book industry.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Besides their convenience and versatility, audio books have garnered recognition for their positive impact on memory retention during reading. Extensive research has shown that audio book listeners can recall more information than traditional readers, demonstrating the efficacy of this auditory medium in facilitating better memory retention. Studies also indicate that individuals who opt for audio books retain information more effectively over time, solidifying the benefits of this immersive learning experience. Astonishing statistics from the Audio Publishers Association reveal that listening enhances comprehension by a staggering 76% and boosts reading accuracy by 52%. Furthermore, with an astounding 85% of what we learn through listening, audio books have emerged as a compelling tool to foster deeper understanding and recollection of valuable knowledge. Embracing audio books as part of one’s learning journey offers convenience and a tangible boost to memory retention, making them an indispensable asset for knowledge seekers and continuous learners.


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What are the Differences Between Reading and Listening?

Reading, in contrast to listening, requires the use of the left hemisphere of the brain for its cognitive functions. On the other hand, listening uses both sides of the brain. Understanding speech and its meaning while listening to an audio book requires parallel processing.

Although similar brain regions are involved in processing reading and listening, separate regions are involved in interpreting speech. Because of this, you may listen to music while reading a book. But you can’t turn it around—using an audio book while reading is impossible.

Secondly, listening to audio books may help develop a reader’s sense of compassion. Experts agree that narrating a narrative aloud brings the plot to life and makes the characters more interesting. Users get more invested in the narrative as a whole, learning more about and growing to care for the central characters.

In addition, the audio book is narrated by a human voice. It’s a voice that makes you believe you’re conversing with a genuine person. In addition, the narration incorporates acting, allowing listeners better to understand the book’s underlying mood and tone. Their awareness of irony and sarcasm is enhanced.

Narration is one of the most important parts of a book since it has the power to make readers feel things. The author’s voice is what makes the characters real to the reader. Therefore, not only does narration include a social component, but it also helps readers better comprehend what is being spoken.

However, reading increases long-term memory retention. When readers can quickly get their bearings in a text or book, they are more likely to retain key data, according to experts. Digital media such as audio books and ebooks avoid this problem. It is shown that digital displays are incapable of providing this experience to readers.

Highlighting and underlining phrases is another way that consumers may retain more of what they read. With audio books, this is not an option. Therefore, reading is unquestionably superior than listening when dealing with more intricate issues or novel ones.

And most crucially, those who read tend to focus less on other tasks when reading. But hearing isn’t like that at all. Numerous listeners to audio books and podcasts do so while jogging, cleaning the dishes, or driving. All of these procedures serve to distract the audience from the main point. Listening to your favourite audio book while doing these things might be relaxing, but it can hinder your ability to remember detailed information.

Researchers have shown that many individuals let their minds wander while reading or listening. These pauses are crucial because they provide your brain the mental space it needs to process and remember the information you’re taking in. Also, the mind is better able to concentrate after these little respites.

Last but not least, the pace at which you read or listen makes a big effect. It takes longer to read than it does to listen. For instance, whereas you can read 300 words in one minute, you can only listen to 150 words every minute. An audio book may be listened to in an hour, whereas reading the same book can take just half that time.

So What Do You Need to Choose, Audio books or Reading?

There is no correct answer to it. Study after study has shown that reading and listening have equivalent effects on learning. It remains the same regardless of the learning style a learner adopts. Furthermore, a study conducted in 2018 by researchers at the University of Indiana found that learners often switch between preferred and non-preferred modes of instruction.

In contrast, both reading and listening can be challenging. Reading may be both a visual challenge and a dull activity at times. It takes practice to develop listening skills that allow you to process new information as it comes in. The use of sound and digital technology adds further complications. Problems with entertainment, focus on material, and juggling several tasks are all raised as examples. The inability to swiftly concentrate when the mind wanders or while contemplating a phrase is also a problem that prevents readers from grasping the author’s meaning. This is a typical feature of digital audio and video formats. Hence, the experts recommend incorporating both learning forms to potentialise their advantages.

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