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The Problem With Audio Books and Audible.com

It’s 9 p.m. You just got back home from a long day of school and practice. All you want to do is get some rest, but there is work to be done, namely, 80 pages worth of reading for English class. Hey, why not just listen to the audio book? It will be easier to focus and pay attention to. It won’t be as mentally draining. Right?

I would argue that this is wrong. While audio books and audible.com have become very popular over the last few years, to me, it is not as valuable as actually seeing the words and reading them to absorb the material. Nonetheless, in 2012, total industry sales in the book business fell just under 1 percent over all, but those of downloadable audiobooks rose by more than 20 percent. Clearly the act of hearing has become more popular than actively reading.

There’s nothing discernibly wrong with audio books, but the attitude people are taking toward them, as if they are shortcuts, induces them to be less conscious of what they are hearing. Many times while “listening” to the book, you will end up doing other things, such as texting, doing other homework, or even falling asleep. Without seeing the words and being engaged, it’s hard to take all of the information in.

Don’t underestimate the power of reading a book. My friend’s mother loves to listen to romance novel audio CDs during road trips. We always get a good laugh out of them, but if you asked me what the synopses of these books were, I couldn’t tell you a thing. If you are going to listen to an audio book instead of reading, and this is a book you will be tested on in school, please just have caution that you may not be getting as much out of the book as you can. You can’t go wrong with simply reading it.