Are Audiobooks Faster Than Reading? (I Checked It)


As technology is improving, people are getting more and more inclined towards digitalization.

With the advent of smartphones and internet, many things are possible these days. One of the most advanced technologies is the audiobook where a person reads out a book and you can listen to it.

According to a new research report, 1 among 5 Americans prefers to listen to audiobooks over reading books. However, people find audiobooks to be more convenient than old-fashioned reading.

Are audiobooks faster than reading?

Audiobooks are slower than reading a book. The average speed of audiobook goes about 150 words to 160 words per minute while an average reader can read about 250 words to 300 words per minute.

Why are Audiobooks slower than reading?

Do you know that the average speed of reading of most of the adults is around 200 words to 300 words?

If you are an average reader who doesn’t read too much, then you will be able to read 200 words approximately in a minute. A regular reader can read about 300 words every minute and a well-experienced reader can even go as high as 500 to 600 words per minute.

But when it comes to talking speed, an average speaker can speak about 120 words to 150 words per minute. As you will know speaking slowly is always better than speaking quickly.

When a person is narrating the story from a book for the digital audiobook, he/she will not speak fast or quickly. They will speak at an average speed so that each and every word can be clearly heard as well as they are well-pronounced.

So, an audiobook contains about 130 to 160 words per minute. It depends more on the audiobook narrator. Hence, audiobooks are actually slower than the traditional reading.

How long does it take to read and listen to the same book?

I, personally, love to read the book more than listening to them as audiobook. I find it more engaging and in case I want to re-read a part again, I can.

I am telling you this because reading time can actually differ from one person to another. While one can be a very experienced regular reader, other can be a new one who just started reading books.

The speed of their reading will differ and hence read duration will also vary between them. But when it comes to audiobooks, it is similar for everyone.

While it can take read just 2 hours of a book, it can take 4 to 5 hours for its audiobook. According to a study, it has been seen that it takes twice the time to listen to the audiobook than it is to read.

I can provide you with an example of the two of the most popular books. Have you read "The Alchemist" by Paulo Coehlo?

Well, it takes about 2 hours and 11 – 15 minutes to complete the whole book for an average reader. For the same book, the audiobook is about 4 hours long.

Another example is the "Sapiens" by Yuval Noah Harari. While it takes about 7 hours and 46 minutes to complete the book by an average regular reader, the audiobook is 15 hours and 18 minutes long.

So, you can clearly see the difference in the timing between reading and listening to audiobooks. It can take a lot longer to listen to book than read the same one.

If audiobook are too slow, consider speeding them up

Though all the audiobook narrators narrate the stories more or less at the same speed i.e. 130 words to 160 words per minute, it can seem to be slow at times. It depends a lot on the type of story you are listening to.

The pace of narration can be slow depending on the narrator who is actually narrating in the audiobook. However, there is a solution for you to speed up the entire audiobook.

Most of the audiobook apps come with an option or feature where you can select the desired speed. You can spot the speed button somewhere on the screen when the audiobook is playing.

Now, you can choose the speed according to your needs. One important thing that you have to know is that 1x is the default or the normal speed of the audiobook.

Generally, you can adjust the speed from 0.5x to 3.5x. If 1x is the normal, then switching to 0.5x will slower the speed of your audiobook. You have to choose anywhere above 1x to increase the speed of the narration.

Whether you will choose 1.5x or 2.0x or more than that, it is your choice completely. You can adjust while listening to the audiobook to ensure which one works the best for you.

Whenever you feel like the story is going to slow and you need to speed up the audiobook, this can help!

Which is more beneficial? Reading or Listening to a book?

This is actually one of the most important questions that many people ask. Reading vs. listening to books – which one is better?

Surprisingly, people have different opinions and preferences. While many people love to read books, many prefer to listen to books due to many reasons.

Here, I will focus on different aspects and how reading and listening to books can affect these aspects. Some of the main aspects are:

1. Time & Convenience

While people may love to read books and they can read quite fast, getting free time is quite challenging. These days, people have lots of work to do and less time to spare for themselves.

While reading a book requires you to dedicate a certain time only for reading, audiobooks don’t have those limitations. Many people opt for listening to audiobooks because they can listen to them while they are traveling, cooking, or cleaning.

While reading may take a lot lesser time than that of the audiobooks, as mentioned above, the audiobooks are more convenient for people.

2. Comprehension & Understanding

When it comes to comprehension and getting clean picture of the storyline, reading always helps more. While listening to the same story, you can understand what they are saying, but it is not the same as reading it on your own.

Reading a book can get your undivided attention where you tend to engross yourself completely. But people, mainly, listen to audiobooks while they are traveling or doing other works.

Hence, listening to audiobooks may not provide similar comprehension like that of the story books.

3. Emotional Response

This can be a debatable topic for many. While some people claim that audiobooks can elicit more emotional response, some claims that reading the book can elicit the same.

When a person is reading a book, he/she gets to read each and every line on their own and relate to the emotions very nicely.

You tend to get more attached to the characters of the book as you get to read about them more. This is what reading does to people, naturally.

But people who are listening to audiobooks get to hear the narrator narrating the story out loud and clear with all the emotions in it. It is more of social experience for people to hear the sarcasms or emotions when a human speaks.

4. Engaging

Of course, reading a book is far more engaging than that of listening. When you read, you do not engage yourself in other activities. It is just you and your book/eBook.

But when you are listening to an audiobook, you are doing something or the other. Either you are doing household chores or you are simply traveling or commuting.

This can, sometimes, make you inattentive and detached from the story. Hence, reading the book is more engaging (without a doubt) than listening to audiobooks.

5. Impact on brain

According to the University of California at Berkeley, the human brain gets equally stimulated by listening to a book and reading a book. The brain can absorb equally from visual reading and listening to audios.

The result can differ from one person to another depending on how attentively the person is reading or listening to the book and audiobook respectively. But the bottom line is that the audiobook and a traditional book can have an equal impact on your brain.


While reading and listening both comes with some pros and cons, it completely depends on one’s personal choice. If you want to complete a book faster and make sure that you are giving undivided attention to the book, then reading is the best way.

On the other hand, if you want to complete the book while doing other things, then listening to audiobooks is the best way. Audiobooks are much more convenient and you can listen to it even when you are doing something else.

To sum it up all, listening to audiobooks is getting more and more popular these days due to the fast lifestyle. But reading books, be it a physical one or an eBook, comes with some great perks of its own. You have to choose which one you like the most and get started!

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