Audiobooks vs. Real Books

A few months ago I started a trial subscription to and downloaded Atomic Habits by James Clear. I had started reading a hard copy of this book some months before, but never really made much progress on it, as was the case with many of the books I had picked up over the past few years. I would get excited about a book, purchase it, read a few pages, and then the whole process would repeat itself. There are about a half dozen books sitting in my bookshelf waiting to be read.

I started listening to Atomic Habits when I ran and found that there were some things I liked about the audiobook format and others I didn’t.

One thing I didn’t like as much was not having the ability to quickly re-read a sentence or two. Sometimes you just need to pass the info through your brain an extra time or two to grasp what’s being said. With the audiobook you can rewind 15 or 30 seconds for similar effect but it’s not quite the same.

This brings me to the idea that while you’re getting the same info into your brain via audiobook or good old fashioned hard copy, there is something different between the two formats.

Listening to the book is a more passive activity, while reading is active and the experience of each is distinct. The audiobook flows more quickly into my mind, speeding up the process of obtaining the content, but the never-ending flow of the audiobook means that stopping to ponder a passage requires a bit more work to pause and restart the player every time you may want a moment to think.

To that point, “reading” and audiobook takes considerably less time, at least in my case. I plowed through Atomic Habits in a matter of a week or so, listening just while I ran.

All in all, I enjoyed the audiobook experience, and even downloaded another book this month, which I just started this week.

Because of the ability to listen while exercising or driving audiobooks are a huge plus to me. I never seem to make time to actually sit and read a hard copy book, so for now audiobooks are here to stay.