Listening to audio books has become a popular alternative to reading books. Many people listen to audio books while driving, jogging or doing household work. The increasing popularity of audio books leads to a question: "Is it better to read a book or listen to an audio book?" While different people may have different preferences, I will approach this question from the viewpoint of efficiency of the reading process.
Which way is faster?
In case of printed texts, the average reading speed for an average person is about 200-250 words per minute. The listening speed of audio books is about 120-140 words per minute, which is almost two times slower. Furthermore, you can increase your reading speed by learning to speed read, which may able you to read at 500-700 words per minute.
The possibilities for increasing the listening speed are not so great. You can use special software for speeding them up, but it is difficult to listen to a very fast speech. For example, auctioneers speak at about 250 words per minute. You really cannot follow if the speaker is talking much faster than it.
Options for preview
In many cases you do not want to read the whole book, but you will search for a specific place in it or you want to make a quick preview of it. It is easy to look through ordinary books at rapid pace. You can scan them with your eyes and search for keyword, headlines, tables and figures. It is easy to read book selectively. It means that you will ready only some chapters or parts of chapters. It is much more difficult to listen selectively.
What about comprehension?
It is pretty clear that you can read printed books faster, if you are not a very slow reader. For comprehension the picture is not as clear as it depends on the type of memory you have. When you have visual type of memory then you comprehension will be higher for printed books. On the other hand, if you have auditive type of memory then you will comprehend better when you listen to audio books.
Comprehension is related to concentration. The better you focus, the more you will remember. In most instances it is simpler to focus to reading as reading is additional active procedure than listening. There may be some individual differences, for most men and women it additional probable that their though are likely to wonder away when listening to mp3 audiobooks.
Alternatives for multitasking
Mp3 audiobooks permit for multi tasking. When you are reading a printed text then it is not a good thought to deal with other tasks at the same time, for instance cook dinner or watch tv. It will kill both your reading speed and comprehension. Listening is slower and less active procedure and it is possible to listen to them whilst driving or cleaning your apartment and you comprehension will not suffer a lot from these activities.
I personally like to read ordinary books as it is a lot faster and i have visual kind of memory. Nevertheless, I will not count out mp3 audiobooks as the because of the benefit of multi-tasking. For instance, I listen to them whilst driving longer distances.