I was introduced to audiobooks from a young age as a transition from my parents reading to me at night. As a child I had a low reading age and a short attention span, so I struggled to learn to read for a long time. Audiobooks offered me a chance to be involved with the unique experience that comes from reading books. The flexibility of audiobooks allows you do anything you like while listening to a book that you haven’t gotten around to reading yet or don’t have the time to settle down to read. Even though I could not sit to concentrate on reading, I could game and play with toys but still get to experience books such as the Harry Potter series through listening to audiobooks. For this reason alone, I believe audiobooks to be a great and underrated method of storytelling.
Books are a wonderful medium, they offer so much more than the limited time and imagery that TV and films offer. Books and audiobooks can explore stories and characters in greater depth than a two-hour movie, but unlike books and movies that require time to sit down, audiobooks are suitable for when you’re busy and on the move. You can listen to them when you exercise, do chores, or enjoy a hobby while listening to your favourite story. Where books need to be held and the pages flipped through, audiobooks can be listened to anywhere without fear of ruining your paperback. I would often go for a run and listen to music, but it would not successfully relieve the boredom that came with running the same route every day. This was when audiobooks came in handy as they demanded more attention of me and gave me something to focus on while I ran. Audiobooks don’t need your full attention but can give you the chance to get through a book on a busy schedule.
We experience the world through all of our senses, and books allow us to imagine things we haven’t experienced. Audiobooks offer you the sense of sound, so you can enjoy a book in a new way as our imaginations while reading can only use what we see in front of us. Hearing the words can help you to get to grips with the emotion that the author intended through the voice of the actor, on top of accents and sound effects that help create a world. Audiobooks allow us to hear accents from countries we have never been to and hear sounds that we are unable to experience when reading while still letting us use our imagination. In my experience as a person with autism, I struggled with subtle human emotion as a child so when I read a book some of the emotions or actions that the author assumes everyone can understand were lost to me without clear explanation. Audio allowed me to connect words to experiences I have had without the need for an author to explain every decision or action made in a book. By giving me the ability to listen, audiobooks made it easier for me to engage with story where a book couldn’t.
Audiobooks let people experience new things that books are unable to while still allowing people to experience the wonders of a book.
The accessibility of audiobooks has never been better with modern technology, public services and affordability. The majority of people nowadays have access to a smart phone or tablet to download apps, and computers can also download audiobooks to play. If you’re old school or on a budget, cassettes and CDs can often be found cheaply in charity shops which can be played on older technology that is usually far cheaper than new tech. In general, audiobooks are cheaper to buy than normal books, with apps such as Audible offering some books for 99p. It also gives you the option to cancel your membership but you do keep the books that you’ve purchased. For those who can’t afford to pay for books or audiobooks regularly, there are now apps that local libraries subscribe to that let library users access their collection in another format. These apps work the same as a library, being able to listen to audiobooks for free for a specific amount of time before renewing or borrowing a different book. All together there are many benefits to accessing audiobooks and with the ease of using them they can be a great way to expand your book engagement.