We Asked, You Answered: Is Listening to Audiobooks ‘Reading’?

In recent years, more and more bibliophiles are turning to audiobooks as a way to discover new stories (and re-discover old favorites). We know that books can be experienced in many different ways … But as their popularity grows, there’s still the occasional debate as to whether listening to audiobooks can be considered the same as “reading.”

Goodreads.com turned to its followers on Facebook and Twitter for their opinions and received a wide array of responses on how audiobooks have expanded their horizons. Which ones resonate with you? Let us know in the comments!

1. “I do consider it reading. Reading isn’t just about looking at the words on the page or hearing words as they’re being read. It’s about processing, imagining, and understanding. Science has shown those processes are similar whether reading with your eyes, your ears, or your fingers,” says Buddy.

2. “If you strictly base it on the technical definition of reading, they’re certainly not the same. They’re different language skills. But I think the whole point of both is the consumption of literature. That’s why it doesn’t matter if you read [a book] or listened to it,” says Calvin.

3. “1000% counts as reading. You’re still absorbing the material, just in a different format. And let’s not forget that [they are] extremely helpful, if not completely necessary, for the visually impaired!” says Michal.

4. “I don’t consider it reading, although I understand why some people need audiobooks and prefer them. I think reading an actual book is just a totally different experience then listening to one,” says Jessica.

5. “Audiobooks are great for those those looking to experience a book while walking or exercising, or those with vision problems. But that’s called listening. Reading is with your eyes. Not better. Just different,” says Jeanne.

6. “Yes, I consider it reading. I’m still dedicating time to the story and following along. I’ve ‘re-read’ a couple of books this way and actually picked up on new details I hadn’t before. It was exciting for me,” says Belinda.

7. “I like to listen to audiobooks when I’m hiking or driving long distances. I used to think it was ‘cheating,’ but listening to a story is just an alternative form of enjoying a book,” says Andrea.

8. “They don’t provide the exact same experience, but they both provide incredible stories. I think the coolest part is how audiobooks have modernized the human tradition of telling stories out loud with the spoken word,” says Nick.

9. “By one definition, audiobooks aren’t reading. But by the definition of reading as ‘interpretation,’ I think it fits,” says Raygina.

10. “In the same way that Braille is still ‘reading’ even though it technically does not involve visual processing of written information, audiobooks involve construction of visual interpretations of the information conveyed through symbolic language. Essentially, reading.” says Josh.

By Marie, August 17, 2018, first appearing on Goodreads Blog

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