“I only read REAL books”
“I can’t read if I can’t touch the book”
“You didn’t really read it if you only listened to it”
Sound familiar at all? I have heard this from a stream of people over the years when I mention that I occasionally listen to audiobooks. It usually comes from casual readers who think they are special because they managed to read one thing on the best seller list.
I get annoyed when people hate on audiobooks, and not just because I enjoy them. Hating on audiobooks and dismissing them as a form of reading is alienating people who don’t have the ability to physically read. When you say to someone that their enjoyment of a book doesn’t count because they listened to it you are potentially discouraging them from picking up a book ever again. Think about that, your comment could stop a potential reader from never enjoying a book again.
I have spoken to quite a few people who rely on audiobooks for literature. Hell, I once built an entire book playlist for people with learning difficulties. Many of the young people I worked with wanted to read the likes of Harry Potter or the classics but had difficulties reading. Audiobooks gave them the ability to enjoy books for the first time. This can also apply to people with ADHD, dyslexia, Tourettes, visual problems or people who simply do not have English as a first language. Audiobooks can unlock the world of literature to all of those people.
Reading should be accessible to everyone. Whether you listen to audiobooks while at work because you simply don’t have the time to sit and read, or you spend all day pouring over the battered pages of your favourite novel, you are reading. So next time you ever feel the urge to say that an audiobook isn’t a real book think about who you are talking to. Maybe there is a reason why they are listening to it.