Do Audiobooks Count?

When you work in a library, sometimes people will ask you, "Do audiobooks count as reading books?" They absolutely do!

For one thing, you're absorbing the same information. Reading is more than just text decoding. It's about learning, synthesizing, and experiencing. If you know what happened and understand the story, then you learned the content of that book whether it was in print or audio format. Unless the book you want to read consists mainly of a bunch of charts and graphs, there’s a good chance it will translate well to audio.

If you listened to an audiobook instead of reading it via text, you would still be able to check it off of your "to be read" list or "for later" shelf, right? That should certainly mean that it was read. Initial studies on visual versus auditory comprehension are limited, but so far, all of the evidence suggests that comprehension through reading and listening are correlated. People could summarize what they’d heard just as well as what they’d read. 

There are people who cannot read text due to visual impairments. Would audiobooks not count as reading for those folks? For those who are blind, visually impaired, or have learning disabilities related to text decoding, audiobooks are a wonderful alternative that make books universally accessible. It's about the content—not the container. 

Audiobooks are also a great way to get more books in when it's been a struggle to find time to read print books for more than five minutes before you fall asleep at night. For those who are in a busy time of their life, whether working, tending to family, or doing chores, audiobooks are a great way to slip in the pleasure of reading. Audiobooks make great companions when you’re driving and doing routine chores like laundry and dishes. They are also highly mobile, especially if you get them through the free Libby or Hoopla apps on your phone (all you need is your Canton Public Library card number). 

Just like reading text has educational benefits, there are also learning advantages to audiobooks. Listening to them can increase your vocabulary and improve your pronunciation. Students can listen and comprehend two grade levels above their text reading level. Adults who are learning another language often like to turn to audiobooks to engage in the prosody (accent, stress, rhythm, tone, pitch, and intonation—all of which provide important information beyond a sentence’s literal word meaning) of the language they’re learning.

And finally, audiobooks are increasing in popularity. Here at CPL, 31% of the e-media (including e-books, e-video, and e-magazines) checked out in 2021 were e-audiobooks (you can see our statistics dashboard here). We have plenty of books on CD as well, if you prefer using a physical format.