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What is an Audiobook, and are they worth the listen?

What is an Audiobook, and are they worth the listen?

Woman enjoying an Audiobook

What is an Audiobook, and why should you be interested in them too?

According to statistics, over 50% of Americans over the age of 12 have listened to one in 2020.

To really drive home their popularity, here’s another statistic – as of 2018, they generated over $941 million, and their popularity seems to be on a continuous rise *. And not only in the US, but also worldwide.

So there is an increase in interest in this type of book. But what exactly are audiobooks, and are they worth the listen?

Did you know that there are two types? What are the differences between the two? In this post, we will provide you practical insights on audiobooks and tips on listening to them.

What is an audiobook?

What is an Audiobook?
@Pixel-Shot/ Shutterstock

In case you didn’t know, an audiobook is an audio format of a regular book. A book is recorded with either one narrator covering all the characters in the book or a cast of narrators doing the voices for one or two characters.

The recording has the narrator’s voices, but sound effects and background music can also be included for extra dramatic effect. Both styles are remarkable, but the type of writing and story distinguishes if these effects and music are added.

The difference between an E-Book a Podcast, and an Audiobook explained.

The difference between an E-Book, Podcast & Audiobook?
@Dean Drobot/

You may have heard about E-Books, Audiobooks, and Podcasts and feel like they are all the same. But there is quite a difference between them, so let’s put these differences to rest:

An Audiobook is exactly what it sounds like – a book in audio form. Anytime you listen to one, you are listening to someone read a book out loud.

A Podcast is an episodic series of audio content that generally has a specific theme. In a podcast, you listen to the hosts discuss topics relevant to the podcast theme. There are podcasts for all different topics – science podcasts, news podcasts, television and movie podcasts, true crime podcasts – the list goes on and on.

An E-book is a book that you can read on your computer, laptop, tablet, or e-book reader. E-books are just copies of regular books in a different form. They are excellent for reading on-the-go.

What are the types of audiobooks?

Easy listening
@Africa Studio/

You will find two versions of them: the abridged and unabridged kind.

In short: The big difference between the two is the length! An abridged version is a summary. You get only the big picture and no details.

Abridged audiobooks.

This is a book edited down in size to the essence of the storyline. Every chapter or section of the book is read, and only the essential parts are kept intact. It doesn’t indicate that the cut areas aren’t necessary. However, the preserved sections of the book play a more important role in the story.

Unabridged audiobooks.

These types are narrated word for word from the front cover to the last page. It is read aloud the way the author has made the book. If the book is an older one, then the text should be updated. The whole story is read without removing any parts of the storyline.

Why do people listen to Audiobooks? And why should you?

A woman listening to an Audiobook

We live in a busy world, and we don’t always have time to sit down and read a book. But with an audiobook, you can listen to books while you clean the house, while you’re driving, while you’re in the shower, or even at the gym!

Audiobooks are also an excellent choice for individuals who may have difficulty reading due to things like dyslexia, ADHD, vision loss, and so on and so forth.

But is listening to a book really as good as reading one? According to research, yes!

In a 2016 study by Beth Rogowsky, two groups of students were assigned the same book, the only difference being that one group was assigned to read the book, and the other group was assigned to listen to it.

In the quiz that was given afterward, there was no difference in comprehension between reading or listening.

So yes – audiobooks are just as good as real books, and you can listen to them anytime and anywhere!

How to select - some tips
@Aleksandr Grechanyuk/

Audiobooks can be a great way to enjoy a good book when you don’t have the time to sit down and enjoy a good book. Take it to the gym, listen to it while you cook, listen while driving, or enjoy it in the shower. The biggest benefit of them is that you can enjoy them wherever you go!

Listening is the first language skill people learn. Eighty-five percent of what you know is learned through listening. For young learners having difficulty reading, listening to audiobooks can make learning a simple and easy process, not to mention that it makes learning fun and inclusive.

They are a great way to combine business with pleasure together.

How can you listen to audiobooks?

As the audiobook sector thrives, so is the number of ways you can listen to them with apps for desktops, iPads, smartphones, and Kindles from Amazon, Apple, and Google.

One of the best places to get or borrow them is from your public library. Usually, it’s free, and the selection is massive. You will also find other options like using library resources to listen to them:

Overdrive and 3M Cloud Library.

Apps for library audiobooks - Overdrive
@Sharaf Maksumov/

These two are digital borrowing platforms for downloading online materials and audiobooks. Keep in mind that when using these sources, you need to wait to borrow the copies.

Here are the websites: Overdrive and CloudLibrary Or if you want to download the Apps right away, here are the links:
Overdrive for iOS or for Android
CloudLibrary for iOS or for Android


The App Hoopla
@Postmodern Studio /

Hoopla is an online streaming and downloading service. It offers public libraries, which enable users to access a specific number of audiobooks every month.

Books on CD

This option is the best you can do if you want to listen to your car or on a CD player. You only need to borrow the CD of your choice.

Audiobooks on CD
@Dmitry Naumov /

How should you select an Audiobook?

You can get a lot of Audiobooks for free but if you want to buy an Audiobook, it is good to know if you get the quality you expect for the money you paid. So here are some tips to ensure you get the best value for money:

  1. Select a category or topic you are interested in and browse through the available books in that category.
  2. Check online for reviews about the book to see what other people think, or ask friends or family for suggestions.
  3. Listen to an excerpt from the book before you buy it. Sometimes the author and the narrator are not the same, and if you don’t like the voice of the narrator, you won’t enjoy the book as much.
  4. Finally, check the duration of the Audiobook. Sometimes they are much shorter or longer than you would expect.

There you have it! We hope now to know the answer to the question ‘what is an audiobook ?’, all the benefits, and how you can enjoy listening to them.

Do you like to read more about Audiobooks? Try these articles:
Free Audiobooks on Spotify, Audible, and other sources.
Audiobooks on Spotify, how does it work?
Apps for Library Audiobooks for hours of listening.
Audiobooks versus Reading: Which is Better?