Just a few years ago, it would have been inconceivable to imagine a world without paper books. Not only were paper books superior to their electronic counterparts in terms of resolution and brightness, but there was also an intangible quality to paper that many people preferred on a subconscious level.

Many older women say they just cannot give up that sensation of turning real paper pages and say it is part of the reading experience.

Until recently, electronic book (eBook) formats like Kindle and Nook have struggled to compete with paper books. But, while the battle between paper and electronic books has increased, a different format has quietly emerged as a third alternative – audiobooks.

There are many reasons that the audiobook format has gained in popularity since the launch of the company called Audible in 1999. Here are 5 benefits of audiobooks and an explanation of why they have become so popular when compared to traditional paper books and their more recent electronic book cousins.

Multi-Tasking

In today’s complex world, the amount of information that people need to know to stay ahead of the competition is increasing. Audiobooks make it easy to listen to the story or facts being discussed while still being able to engage with other activities. But unlike listening to the radio, audiobooks can start and stop whenever you want.

For example, when I first started listening to audiobooks, I found it really rewarding to pause the recording, sit down at my computer and research a topic or piece of information. You can also listen to audiobooks while you are cooking, walking or knitting.

Enhanced Story-Telling

Audio books are more than spoken versions of printed books. In many cases, they are like elaborate audio plays, involving 6 or more voice actors. With this kind of audio entertainment it’s a bit like the return of the old radio productions that our parent loved.

I am often intrigued by the different voices that the actors create, especially because they enhance the depth of the characters they are playing and make them more tangible to me. Audiobooks, when done well, can serve not just as a substitute for reading printed material, but embody a different creative spirit as their own unique medium of entertainment and education.

Filling the Long Commute

Many workers have longer commutes these days, and listening to an audiobook is a great way to pass the time. If you commute on a train or bus, being able to put your headphones on and listen to a good book is an excellent way to combat the boredom and other distractions of a bumpy and noisy journey. If you are not driving, you can just close your eyes and escape.

Subscription Billing

While companies like Apple have been reluctant to provide subscription billing options for electronic books or music, audiobooks were one of the first book formats to experiment with this model. Audible.com still offers monthly and annual subscription options, which greatly reduce the cost of audio content. You can easily download Audible books online and they are sometimes even less expensive.

Speed Listening

While learning to speed-read is possible, it takes a considerable amount of time and effort. As a result, many people prefer to listen to audiobooks on 2 times speed as an alternative to speed reading. It sounds more complicated than it is, but you would be surprised how easy it is to listen at a faster speed. Speed listening allows users to make the most of their learning time.

With so many benefits to audiobooks, perhaps there has never been a better time to make the switch.

Do you enjoy listening to audio books? Or do you prefer paper or electronic books instead? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

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