Do Audiobooks Count as Reading?

I`ve gone through most of my adult life without audiobooks, but the deeper I get in the bookish community, and when discussing books with friends, I’ve swiftly learned that audiobooks are a major part of the literary world.

Naturally, as a form of media becomes increasingly popular, opinions are bound to diverge. One such topic of debate is the validity of considering listening to an audiobook, as reading.

On one hand, It could be argued that audiobooks don’t count. Why you ask? Well for one, would you say that you have read the lyrics to a song when you have only listened to it? Probably not, so why would it be different for a book? Further, when we read, we strengthen our ability to decode the written language but, we do not use that part of the brain when we listen to an audiobook. Thus it could be described as a form of “cheating”.

Yet from speaking with friends and based on social media it’s clear that the majority of people do consider audiobooks as “reading”, by counting listening to an audiobook in their Goodreads yearly reading challenge.

And why shouldn’t it count? Through the ages, stories have been passed down through word of mouth, not through books, which until recent centuries were too expensive and inaccessible for the majority of people. The whole premise of reading is to learn and to enjoy a story, and yes listening to an audiobook is taking the train, whereas physically reading is more like walking, but the destination/story is the same.

Personally, I think that it’s completely down to personal choice. Both forms of media present the same story, so to me they are both valid forms of obtaining a tale. I personally wouldn’t count an audiobook in my Goodreads challenge. However, If you do then that’s great too, as the choice is ours and there is no wrong answer to the question, Do Audiobooks Count as Reading?

Let me know your opinions down below …

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23 thoughts on “Do Audiobooks Count as Reading?

  1. In my mind, they definitely do count as reading, if nothing else they can be really useful for visually impaired people or those who have trouble with reading text for other reasons.

    That said, I can’t do audiobooks at all. They do seem useful (I could read and knit!) but I can’t focus on audio all that well. I’m the type who’s uncomfortable watching movies or videos without subtitles.

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  2. your song analogy is really interesting, since lyrics are only one part of music (so just reading them definitely wouldn’t be a comparable experience to listening to the song, since you wouldn’t get the melody and rhythm, let alone the instrumental components) – so although reading and listening do use different parts of the brain, I would argue that both will give you the story, since the words are the story if that makes sense?

    I personally can’t process audiobooks, so for me the opposite seems very possible – especially once I read Fangirl and met Levi (who can’t process print books but likes audiobooks and records lectures). for those of us who are good with visuals, that’s awesome – and we also likely had an easier time with the traditional teaching model, but that’s a rant for a different day 😜 – but not everyone is.

    so whether it’s a question of how your brain “works” or whether you just don’t have the time to sit down with a print/digital book, I think whatever method someone prefers is a valid form of reading.

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    1. Thank you for sharing your opinion 🙂. I completely agree that they are a valid way of obtaining a story and a wonderful tool for the visually impaired. However, I was discussing the topic generally with a view to myself, who can read the text and listen to the audio. For people who can listen and “read” I think it’s a personal choice whether we count it for ourselves (e.g in the Goodreads challenge). 💚

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  3. Such a great post and well, the way you have discussed the topic is incredible. I get why you don’t think of audiobooks as reading but, personally, I think audiobooks do count as ‘reading’ as they are just one means to get to know the tale. I understand how different the two thinks are – reading and listening but well, in the end, we both get the same text!
    Lovely post xx

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  4. Aaah such an interesting topic, personally I wouldn’t count it as reading but if others wish to count it I’m all for that. As you said, you’re still getting the story but it’s just in a different format. Some people may not be able to read for some reason, or where they are audio is more convenient.

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  5. I’m not really into audiobooks, but I think it counts as reading! I guess it’s really just a technicality, since no “actual” reading is going on, but the story is being absorbed either way.

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  6. Personally I prefer ebooks or paperbacks, but I do think audiobooks count as reading. And those who prefer this medium should be allowed to enjoy their process of getting to know a story and not belittled for it.

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  7. I definitely consider it reading for one main reason: for those that are visually impaired, audiobooks are the only way to read books. It still requires your attention and you are consuming the story orally, just as oral tradition in times before writing stories down.

    Reading an audiobook requires just as much attention as reading a physical or eBook (honestly, more attention in my experience because I struggle to stay focused). At the end of the day, what other people decide to count as reading doesn’t affect me or my own goals in any way.

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  8. Yes, yes they do count. I love audiobooks when I can find them for the really big books that would take me ages to read if I couldn’t listen to the audiobook on 2x speed. 🙈
    Sometimes when I’m too tired and can’t keep my eyes open or the words start blurring on the page, but I’m not sleepy enough, I just put on the audiobook if I have that option and listen to it as I fall asleep. It makes me feel good that I read something at least. 🙂

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