Audiobooks vs. Print Books

Hello Livingston Library Readers!  So we are officially about 3 months into our 2019 reading year.  As I’ve been looking over what books I have read thus far in 2019 I began to wonder if audiobooks should be counted the same as print books are in my yearly total.

I never was much of an audiobook reader, but lately I have taken a liking to downloading audiobooks via Overdrive’s Libby App and listening to them in the car.  Is this more “passive” way of reading just as a valuable as traditional reading?  While looking over the list of books that I have read so far this year, the breakdown is as follows:

  • I have read 27 books
  • 7 of these books are audiobooks
  • 5 of these are poetry collections
  • 15 are regular print books.      

I do have some rules when it comes to choosing audiobooks.  I like them to be short and preferably under 6 hours. I also prefer nonfiction read by the author and/or the title has to be for a library based book club.  Narrated fiction usually loses my interest, and I think that’s because want to feel like my friend in telling me a story while I listen and drive.

But what is the audiobook’s ultimate literary value? If I listen to the audiobook version of Megan Hunter’s The End We Start From (our next Read It & Eat book club choice), am I not able to discuss the storyline in the same capacity that someone who read the print version is able to? Is there a difference in the way one processes literature by hearing it vs. seeing it?  Or is it simply because it seems “easier” that I feel guilty counting it towards my yearly total.

Continuing in this vein of thought, should collections of poetry also be counted differently than full length versions of text or even audiobooks?  They’re page length is much shorter than print novels, as is the amount of text per page, and they can be read in entirety within just a few hours. How do we quantify their worth?

GoodReads posed this question to readers and compiled it into this article you can check out here. Regular print books, audiobooks, and collections of poetry, still take the author time to create, to write, and to revise.  All three formats allow the reader to meditate and think on the words and messages. They also allow us to escape. But how should this ultimately be reflected in our reading goals?

For me, I think I am going to adjust my ultimate reading goal of how many books I want to read in 2019 accordingly.  This year I want to read a minimum 125 books. This includes audiobooks, print books, and poetry collections. Last year I read 106 books including all three formats, but now it’s time to get serious.

So what are your thoughts?  Do audiobooks count as reading?           

-Jessica Bielen, Adult Services Librarian

Livingston, NJ 07039, USA

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