Full disclosure: I’ve never listened to an audiobook. I like my audio in small doses. Short bursts like songs and podcasts. (I generally steer away from any podcast that runs longer than thirty to sixty minutes, though I have a few exceptions.) I just don’t really think I could enjoy drawing out the same story over eleven hours (the average length of an audiobook) even though it probably takes me much longer to actually read it.
But I am a book person. Over the years when I was really struggling with reading, I still felt the same romance with the pages and the covers and the plain old way that a book feels when you hold it in your hands even if all I did when I brought it home was put it on the shelf.
These are all the books I packed for a seven day
business trip to Las Vegas last November
Kevin and I are opposites in this regard. He really isn’t into books. Over the last three or four months, he has been game to join me on my weekly visits to the library and has even checked out (and read!) a few books over that time. But he really isn’t into it. A book is a decent sized time commitment, he has enough on the go and in his downtime his preference is to grab his iPad to read online. To each their own. I did really like it when he was looking at books and I tried to encourage it as much as I could in any non-annoying way I could. (I’m sure they were probably still annoying.)
Fast forward to today’s trip to BC’s oldest library. As we were leaving, he asked me how audiobooks work. Since I had no idea, I told him to ask the librarian. He did and he got set up and he’s already a few hours into his first. He explained how it works to borrow and listen to the library’s audiobooks and it reignited some old internal debate for me.
Does listening to an audiobook count as having read the book? Hmmm.
Honestly, having people consume written words in any format is what really matters to me. I want people to read, buy books and support writers in any way that suits them best. I constantly struggle to carve out time to sit down with whichever book(s) I’m reading so I understand that audiobooks certainly fit nicely into a commute by foot, car or busy transit and can make the most out of time spent walking, running or at the gym.
Listening to all parts of a book certainly qualifies as consuming it, but is it really the same? There’s a gap there that I just can’t jump. That very well may be because I know that, for me, listening is not as meaningful as reading; that, for me, it really isn’t the same. Is it just a matter of personal choice? Up to one’s own preferred method of comprehension? When someone listens to an audiobook, is it fair for them to flip the title to their Goodreads “READ” shelf? School me, all of you who read with your ears AND those who read with your eyes. Does listening to an audiobook count as having read the book? If you’ve tried both, which do you prefer?