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May 27th, 2017, by

Confession: I am an audio book addict.

I listen to books all the time: when I bike, drive, in the gym, mow grass, clean my house, do laundry, repairs my house, jog, cook, take shower, and even swim.

In fact, I can’t do some things without an audio book. E.g., my bike won’t move until I hit play.

Moreover, the addiction is so strong that when my neighbor gave me “The Fine Print” for birthday, and after the first 20 pages I realized the book is good, I could not force myself to do nothing but sit and read. I went to Audible and bought an audio version.

6 advantages of audio books:

1. You can finish one full size books (15 hours/400 pages) a week WITHOUT wasting a single extra minute on reading. You just read (listen) when you do physical tasks.
I audio-read 2 hours a day on work days and 4-5 hours a day weekends. About 30 min on my bike from home to work, door to door, that’s 1 hour. Gym, chores around the house, brushing teeth, dressing – another hour. Weekends, house renovations, cleaning, mowing, or a road trip – another 4-5 hours, or even sometimes 8-9.

2. Audiobook is always with you. On your phone. It takes 2 sec to start reading. Click Audible and click play. It automatically resumes from where you stopped. You have 10 min (doing dishes, waiting for the bus) – click, and you’ve read a few pages. You can’t have your paper book or Kindle with you all the time, can you?

3. Audiobook can be played at any speed. I usually listen to non-fiction and popular science audiobooks at speed x2. Fiction (e.g., 1984 was my last) or something semi-difficult (e.g., The Great Courses: The Medieval World), x3 is very comfortable for me. If I get something very serious and packed with advice, I have to slow down to x1.5 (e.g., The Conversion Code or Tribes). This way, you can audio-read to a 15-hour book in 7.5 or even just 5 hours.
You not only get used to the speed, but it becomes literally painful to listed audio content at x1. For example, I love TED Talks but their app plays only at x1. They sound sooooo slow.
I just open them on YouTube and play back at x2.
Warning: The habit to listed at x2 seems to make me talk fast. Those who know me know how fast I talk and I think my audiobook addition is partly to blame.

4. You can download and start listening to audiobooks instantly. If I stumble upon a good book, I buy it right away and start listening to it in second.

5. You can usually return the audiobook if you don’t like it. I use Audible most of the time. They allow you to return books that don’t meet your expectations. It doesn’t happen often, but probably one in 20 books turns out to be more shallow than I expected, so I just return it after the first few chapters. They instantly refund you and you can buy another.

6. Not only audiobooks save you time, but they also help you do long and boring tasks. I wouldn’t be able to exercise, run, or mow grass for more than a few minutes. It’s just boring. But add an audiobook, and even a few hours fly by before you even notice. Swimming is especially boring. Luckily, they now make waterproof Bluetooth earphones, so you can do your laps as long as you want.


3 downsides of audiobooks:
1. Sometimes you stumble upon a book that is so packed with useful tips and information, that you must take notes. Audibook players let you take or dictate notes, but it’s not the same as when you are working with a paper copy. I had to buy several “real” books after listening to them, so extremely useful they were. I’ll share the list of those WOW! books some day.

2. You never remember the book titles and the author names. When you read a book, you always see the book cover. When you listen to a book, you don’t. So I remember very well what I read, but almost never can recall the exact book title, and sometimes don’t even remember the author name.

3. Audiobooks are a bad format for some handbooks or other technical literature. I still have to read journal articles. You can’t read a results table or a graph.

I am not sure if it’s only me, but when I listen to a book the second time, even if it’s a couple years later, every few minutes the exact picture flashes in my mind of what I saw at the moment when I was listening to that same passage the first time. Like, I remember, I was passing by that particular house when I heard that passage last time. Weird….




By Vas Taras

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