Sooner or later, the voice in my ears ceases to be a voice. It becomes the words, the words become sentences, and the sentences become the story. At some point, the voice in my ears merges with my own voice the way the words on a page once became my own inner voice when I still read print”
These are the words of James Tate Hill, a visually impaired author who had to embrace audiobooks at a young age due to his condition.
Anyone who listens to audiobooks regularly can relate to James Hill’s experience. Although there have been arguments that listening to audiobooks doesn’t count as reading, scientific studies reveal there’s no real difference between reading a book and listening to it.
Whether you listen on your commute, in the gym, or while doing a chore around the house, there’s probably an audiobook that’s just what you need to maximize your passive productivity.
I “read” my first audiobook a few weeks ago when I was trying to meet up with Techpoint’s Reading Club deadline and I immediately became hooked. I admit that I was looking for an easy way to get through the book but I soon discovered that it wasn’t exactly easier than reading a printed format, it was just faster, more flexible and convenient.
Many Nigerians do not know how awesome audiobooks are
The world over, audiobooks are the latest trends in book publishing but unlike eBooks, they are yet to take off in Nigeria. As an alternative to physical books, many Nigerians have begun to embrace eBooks, at least according to a Techpoint poll on social media.
Of the 249 respondents we got on Twitter, only 4% listen to audio books. A similar percentage can be seen in the responses we got on Facebook and Instagram.
POLL: What format do you read books in?
Kindly Vote and RT.
— #TechpointInspired (@Techpointdotng) April 9, 2018
While these meagre numbers do not represent the entire Nigerian population, it gives us an idea of the low penetration of audio books among Nigerians.
As an ardent reader, you may be somewhat snobbish towards audiobooks and may even be one of those people who say listening to them does not count as reading.
And like Victor Ekwealor, Techpoint’s Senior Editor, you may argue that listening to someone else’s translation of a book takes away the essence of reading, however, listening to an audiobook could be far more enjoyable than reading its printed format.
In a Medium post titled How I Completed My Masters, Learnt To Code, & Finished 42 Books In One Year, Chuba Ezekwesili, economist and startup founder revealed that he could read so many books in one year by supplementing his reading list with audiobooks. He also admits that some of the books on his list were more enjoyable in audio.
Why you’re probably not listening to audiobooks
Many busy professionals like Chuba Ezekwesili who love to read have embraced audio books because of its flexibility and enjoyability. In an interview, Beth Anderson, Executive Vice President and Publisher of Amazon’s Audible — the world’s largest retailer and publisher of digital audiobooks — told Quartz that their major users are well educated and successful book lovers who have masters and PHDs.
So if audiobooks are so great and popular among successful professionals, why don’t you listen to them? I have ideas.
You have little or no knowledge of audiobooks as an alternative book format
Audiobooks are part of the podcast boom and they have become very popular among millenials around the world. Chances are that if you enjoy listening to podcasts, you’d find audiobooks very pleasant. They are also great for building reading habits especially for those who normally do not like to read.
Another reason why audiobooks are great is because many of them are read by professional actors and celebrities. The books are brilliantly narrated and delivered so effortlessly that you couldn’t enjoy them better in other formats. And the icing on the cake is that you sometimes get to hear the author read their own books. Imagine listening to a book written and read by Shonda Rhimes, what’s not to love?
You’re like Victor Ekwealor
For many people, the great feeling they get from reading a hardcover book cannot be replaced by any other but I believe it’s because they have not tried other formats. Or maybe it’s because they cannot brag about how many books they have read if nobody sees them reading a hardcover. Then again, it could be that they do not regard audiobooks as reading. To this last set of people, I say, get off your high horse and get listening.
As for Victor, he doesn’t exactly have a problem with audiobooks, he just believes that a book narrated by any other voice asides his mind’s voice comes off as a secondary experience. ‘I want the personal interpretation that I get from reading this story to myself and not through someone else’s mind or voice” he explains
Victor speaks from a personal experience but I don’t entirely agree with him. Listening to a book is no different from reading it as your mind would translate both formats based on your intellectual capacity or experience. In fact, an audiobook narrated brilliantly opens the mind better than one that is read.
Audiobooks aren’t readily available
As popular as they have become, audiobooks are still not as readily available as the other book formats. And the available ones are probably not free. An audible subscription for example, costs $14.95 per month and you only get one free book every month. However, several websites and apps offer free audio formats of classic books like Jane Eyre and The Art of War that can help you settle right in before making monthly purchases of newer books.
Sooner or later, audiobooks will become more popular among Nigerians and so Nigerian authors should begin to work towards publishing audio formats of their books like some of them already do with eBooks.
The invention of audiobooks has made it possible for more people to benefit from the written word – including those with visual impairment like James Tate Hill, and those who would otherwise not have the time or ability to read. Starting is easy, download, get your headphones or earphones and listen.
NEW REPORT: Nigerian startups raised $28.35m in Q2 2020; only about 4.5% of that came from local investors. Find out more in the full report.
Introducing the Built in Africa podcast, which spotlights African startups, innovators and everything that makes them tick. Listen and subscribe here.
Techpoint Build 2020 is holding virtually in August. Register free now to attend.