Will audiobooks dominate future

Technology has made audio books available, and more and more books can be bought in audio format. Fiction books I find more convenient to listen to than to read. Will written books in the future be read or listened to? Maybe reading books will just be a niche in future?


Some reasons: Audio takes time - it is linear, fixed, and takes the same time (in the same order) every time. Text is different. I can read it fast or slow. I can reread a section until I understand it (or just for the pure pleasure of the words) or skip bits I don’t want. I can jump to my favourite sections of a book, dipping in and out as I please. I can skim read, or read with leisurely joy. I can copy parts I like and paste the elsewhere (with ebooks) or write/type them out (with paper books). I can create my own inflexions and emphases as I read rather than accept someone else’s version. With text, my mental creation of the writer’s world is not mediated by someone else’s interpretation - it is a more intimate conversation with the author.

Audio books are good for long car journeys and, um… :confused:
Not to say that audio books aren’t good, they can be excellent. Sometimes it can be fun to have someone read me a story. I just don’t think that they will ever replace the written word.

Yeah, I have to agree. Radio came along. Cinema came along. Television also did its best to wipe the long-form narrative out of culture, and all “failed” because they provided a new way to parcel entertainment, their popularity exists as prominently as it does because most people don’t voraciously read and never have. These casual or seldom readers merely found a new form of personal and convenient entertainment; the avid readers just kept on buying books while spicing things up with shows and films. Audio books are just another way of experiencing a story, and are no more of a threat to the book itself, than television is. Audio books feel closest to radio programs in my mind. They have most of the same characteristics, except you control the play button—and there are a lot more of them these days. :slight_smile:

Now, if you had said the Internet, I would be less certain, as that might plausibly include e-books. Even so, these are still fundamentally text, even if they are conveyed using a configurable machine instead of a thicket of paper. One could argue that “the Internet” in general is a vast encyclopaedia (book) which contains a massive percentage of our collective human output. That’s how I see it anyway. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Earth, vol. 0.0.1beta.

We all have different learning styles, but the two most common are visual and auditory. Personally, I learn best through my eyes, not my ears. In school, the only way I could pay attention to lectures was to write comprehensive notes, seeing if I could outline what the rambling prof was saying. So I’ve never been able to listen to an audio book, no matter how well read. And I always turn on subtitles or closed captions for movies/television, because I like to read the text along with the pictures. My house shrink tells me these are signs of introversion; extraverts prefer to learn through talking, not reading.


The biggest place Audio Books shine is Travel. On trips or on commutes, Audio Books really shine (Love audio books on long drives.)

But most people who love to read actually love to read. I know when something is read to me it is harder to put things like voices or emotions to characters because the narrator is doing that. When I actually read the words I can put my vocal inflictions, stresses, accents, genders, etc on voices or narration and thus can be more immersed in the work than if I listened to someone verbally tell me the story or if they started adding in their own “sound effects” (very common in audio books).

Audio books have their niche but I do not think they will replace the written versions. (text on paper or screen).

Now Digital books are making some progress but even those I think will not fully take over actual printed books for a very long time.

I don’t like audiobooks. I find them limiting. It makes me nervous how slow the story goes when it is spoken. I read 4-5 times faster. Plus, a lot depends on the interpretation of the speaker. Plus, most audiobooks are drastically shortened.

My own novels are regularly made into audiobooks, too, but it always takes a long time until I finally get myself to listen to them. Usually I wait until I have to do something stupid - cleaning, driving etc. For occasions like that an audiobooks is a nice thing.

Audiobooks are simply another market. They reach people whose “input channel” is rather acustic than visual. I have friends who rather buy audiobooks than books to read and are happy with it, even at the higher prices.

If you are looking for something with world domination potential, look for ebooks. I wouldn’t dare to predict their market share hundred years from today.

No. After nine years of working in the audiobook biz I was let go due to rapid decline in sales and the market in general.

However, one interesting turn in technology is that just as DIY publishing has flourished, so has DIY audiobook recording. More voice actors and even some authors are making their own high quality recordings at home, or so my remaining friends in mainstream audiobooks have told me.

Thanks Terry, that was the most convincing argument. Although I love to listen to fiction audiobooks when I’m walking or at night before going to sleep. Non fiction I seldom listen to because of the non linearity of the material.