Audio books – the good, the bad and the promising

“Listening is the new reading” promotes the banner as soon as I log in my Audible account, but is it? Is it really the new normal?

I do believe that people have different approaches how to learn things. For example I’m a person who needs to see or feel emotions to remember. A brand story will speak to me more than plain facts, but bad design will spoil the experience no matter what the story is. I would say that my hearing is the least impactful memory maker.

Based on it all it is quite needless to say that I went in this “try out’’ a bit sceptical, since I just love to hold a book, to highlight parts in it and to feel the paper. I wouldn’t go as far as smelling it, but the physical book captivates my attention much better than digital ones.

For this little experiment I picked two different books. My first pick was “I Can’t Make This Up: Life Lessons” by Kevin Hart and the second one was “Grit:The Power of Passion and Perseverance” by Angel Duckworth. 

The Good – it just speaks right to you

A real treat for any audio book newcomer is listening to Kevin Hart. It was hilarious, deep and inspiring. The man has depth or maybe it’s persistent stubbornness, either way it is presented in raw and honest “fuck it, here it goes, I said it, because it happened” kind of way. If you’re tired or feel like quitting on your dreams, give this book a try, his story is something worth knowing. Dive in the listening mode, the book will speak to you. I was surprised that it was 13 hours long (I mean this man likes to TALK), but the time went by quickly. I enjoyed it very much and I think that reading it wouldn’t be the same. 

The Bad – when you drift away but the book goes on

Before I picked the second book, I spent a lot of time listening to intros of some of the books I wanted to read. It needed to be different than the first one, I needed to find out if I can listen to a book that is mentally more challenging. That being said, even from the intros I soon realised, that I personally can’t fully listen to a book about psychology, mental manipulations or design, since most of the readers sounded boring and I couldn’t hold my attention even for those 3 minutes. So I picked somewhere in the middle. A book that is being mentioned a lot, but also a book that I was not really looking forward to reading. Why? Because I was quite sure it will be the same information I have heard or read before, just in a different packaging. Was it possible to listen and remember what Angel read about personal improvement? Yes and no. Some parts of the book I can’t remember, but I do have a pretty good understanding of the message. After listening to it, I must admit – reading would have been better. At least the first part, since the second part was more about the examples from life, that seemed to be a bit stretched out. Even though this book was 9 hours, it felt way longer, I needed to put more energy to focus my attention and I wasn’t excited to listen to it.

The promising: 

Let’s be honest – at the moment it is too expensive (the access is around 15 EUR/month + you have to buy books, which cost just about the same as digital or physical ones) and too early stages for me to replace reading with listening. Some day the prices will drop and people will explore them more.

Me? I can see myself listening to autobiographies, poetry or life lessons from well known people, if the book is read by author himself. To have author-reader connection, as if that was some kind of personal reading session, is probably the only real advantage for me in it.

Conclusion:

I will choose the physical versions 95% of the time. I know my strengths and for me it is better to see words and to feel the paper that holds them together. But if you want to try out listening to a book, most of the platforms have free try out months and some credits to spend on books. Go try it out yourself.

Here are some links: Audible, Audio Books

 

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