Do Audiobooks Count as Reading?

Recently, on Twitter, I have been seeing multiple people ask if audiobooks count as reading. It’s a question that pops up a lot, and I find that fact that we even need to debate this interesting (and a little concerning). Since there seems to be a never ending debate on the subject (at least on social media), here’s why I disagree that listening to audiobooks is “cheating”.

I’ve looked a little into why people believe this and it seems that the majority of readers share the same consensus that audiobooks, do, in fact, count as reading. But for those who don’t agree don’t either because of technical definitions or because they feel we don’t actually absorb that much from listening. One article I read said it didn’t count purely because reading was by definition a visual process and listening to an audiobook by default didn’t count because it was not visual.

Others claim it doesn’t count because of how easy it is to zone out while listening to a podcast or audiobook. A professor of psychology at James Madison University named David Daniel conducted a study about it. He split his students into two groups: one that listened to a podcast, and one that would read the transcript. Afterward, he gave them a quiz, where he found the ones that listened to the podcasts performed worse compared to those who read. Because of that, he concluded that students won’t be able to learn as much from listening.

These two arguments, I think, is where it can get subjective. When it comes to definitions, some definitions of reading simply state it to be the “process of taking in the sense or meaning of letters, symbols, etc” which makes no mention of whether this process needs to be visual or auditory. The second argument is subjective because of what it thinks reading is for. While reading can be for learning it can be so much more than that, and even then, I have listened to plenty of nonfiction audiobooks before and learned plenty from them.

In short, I don’t think there’s really any solid reason why people bully authors for listening to audiobooks. When it comes down to it, it’s just another way we can absorb stories, which is really cool.

I could probably write a full length argumentative essay about this topic but for the sake of time I won’t.

Do you disagree with me about this? Or maybe you agree and have more points to add? Let me know in the comments! I love debating about bookish things.