The twenty first century has been the century of digitalization. We’re living through the history of the ‘digital revolution’ – as important perhaps as the Industrial Revolution or the Renaissance. This has also translated into books. The physical books, whose distribution changed considerably after the advent of the printing press, may be at the risk of extinction. But how much truth is there in that extremely consequential statement. Let’s find out – will audiobooks take over books? and also, will books lose their importance?
Points In favour of books
Audiobooks cannot replicate the feel of the book
Physical books stimulate all five senses simultaneously. You can smell vintage pages, hear the lull of the words in your mind, see cover art and words, touch the rough edges and the papery pages and taste the words on your lips. (Even though the last one is metaphorical, it still stands – as all readers can attest). Audiobooks meanwhile stimulate only the sense of hearing, which takes away from the feel of the book.
Books allow more intricate attention hence facilitate learning
Books require you to pay complete and undivided attention to them, thereby causing more learning than audiobooks. Paying attention increases the volume of grasping. Psychology also says that the processes of attention and perception are intimately related to memory and recall. Hence reading allows more recall, and entails more application of knowledge.
Imagination is more vivid while reading books
Since a book demands more attention and focus while also stimulating the sense of vision, words come to life more. This means that you are more likely to grasp what the author wants to say and recreate the images and indeed worlds in the mind’s eye. Thus, reading books facilitates imagination, while the focus on hearing in audiobooks hampers this.
Collecting books allows you to build your personal library and keep track of and manifest your TBR
Another reason regular readers prefer books is that you can collect them. While collected audiobooks appear only as virtual shelves, you can actually see your book collection physically in the case of books. You can also keep track of your TBR more easily, and manifest it.
Audiobooks can lead to ear damage
Audiobooks, if listened to at high volumes, can cause ear damage. Also, if a reader listens to audiobooks in a noisy place, the profusion of noises can cause problems in hearing and audibility.
Points In favour of Audiobooks
Audiobooks are more portable and accessible
The major benefit of audiobooks is that they can be carried from place to place and can stand the test of time. Since they fit into a mobile, iPad, tablet and laptop, they can be carried anywhere and everywhere. They do not require additional space and are easy accessible at any time.
Reader can multitask while using audiobooks
Another benefit audiobooks afford is that they allow readers to do other things while using them. Since you only listen to audiobooks, you need not hold anything or look at anything specific. You can instead do something different, which allows time management. However this comes at the cost of attention.
Audiobooks are known to calm the mind
The lilt and rhythm of audiobooks is conducive to calming and even sleep – it feels like someone telling you a bedtime story. Hence it can help alleviate stress, and make you feel more soothing and relaxed feelings.
Putting all of the above points in contention, it is irrefutable that audiobooks have numerous practical and logistical benefits. However, they simply cannot replicate the experience of reading. They cannot make you ask attached to characters, as engrossed in the plot or as mesmerized by the world of the book. Hence, even though the sales of audiobooks might increase dramatically, there is little chance that real, true booklovers will ever let go of their precious physical copies.