Audio vs print books, a war that is decidedly modern. I'd liken it to the movie vs book argument, insignificant in retrospect and yet so defining of character. Let's first define the two sides, shall we?
The Two Sides
Audio books are a modern introduction to literature, a way to listen to the printed word and spread it to those that may not enjoy reading in the traditional sense. They allow people to multitask, enjoy stories and facts, create new worlds, and can immerse people into a world filled with voices. The setting is created in the imagination and a good narrator is a defining feature of a book here.
Printed books give a comfort of an old world, the black and white print has been drawing in an audience for centuries. The feel of paper beneath your fingers, the ability to read at your own pace, and the joy of adding a new book to your collection is singular to paper books. The story is woven between the pages and here, good cover art and well-written prose can define the level of enjoyment here.
Pros of Audio Books
There are many pros of audio books. The ability to immerse yourself into a story without having to set time away to read, instead, you can listen and perform tasks at the same time. A good narrator can create a full cast of characters, differing in tone, inflection, and accent. Some audio books even have an actual full cast, creating a play for the ears. Audio books take us back to the days where someone would take the time to read to us, entrancing us with stories and fantasy. For an additional pro, slower readers can listen to audio books without the struggle of speed or time. This can really help those that suffer from reading deficiencies and help introduce new books to reluctant readers.
Cons of Audio Books
The cons of audio books are also prevalent. Many hard-core print readers may say that by multitasking during the book, you loose focus and can miss significant details and inflections. Others will say that by having a narrator "create" the characters for you, you loose the ability to image them for yourself and confine yourself to a permanent view of a character that's been created by someone else. You also loose the experience one gets from a print book, the pages, the smells, even the printed words, add to an experience that audio books lack.
Pros of Print Books
The pros of print books also number in the manys. As stated earlier, the experience of a printed book cannot be reproduced in an audio book. The feel of good paper, the excitement of turning the page, and the smell of the print are lost and cannot be compensated for. Print books also allow readers to go back to different parts of the book and can help immerse their readers more, since multitasking while reading a print book is much more difficult than audio books. Print books create physical presence of the story in your home and can invoke memories when being held and reread. I still think one of the best things in this world is a cracked spine from a well-loved book.
Cons of Print Books
While some may say they have none, print books, nonetheless, have cons as well. Most significantly might be the time it takes to sit down and actually read. In this fast-paced world, many people often cast reading aside due to the time constraint, especially if one is a slower reader or has trouble focusing enough to read. Print books can also add clutter to a house and can overwhelm a small space quickly. Their bulk can make them cumbersome to store and move, leading people to abandon them.
My stance will seem like a cop-out, but I really do think both types have their place in my life. On one hand, I've been loving audio books recently. My chore list is long and the monotony of the actions is perfect for audio book listening. On the other hand, print books carry special memories in my life and a good one never fails to enthrall me. I think that if I had to choose one to keep for the rest of my life, and I was unable to have the other one, I would choose audio books.
If I told myself 6 or 7 years ago, the height of my reading frenzy, that I would choose audio books I would call myself a liar. However, there are benefits to audio books that I can't deny and that, in the long run, I believe they will serve me better. I am slowly transitioning into my new phase of life, Corporate America, who looks down upon her employees reading when they are supposed to be working. As a young Engineer-In-Training (EIT), I am often given the most boring of tasks until I earn my stripes. This gives ample time for audio book listening. In addition, audio books do not require anything of me except space on my phone and money (but what else is new there?). Over the years I've been steadily downsizing, and while I will certainty keep a few books that hold upmost importance to me, I will likely donate the rest of my collection to other young readers. Finally, I just love the convenience of audio books and the feeling of always having something to draw out and do if needed.
I will admit that at times I really miss the printed work, and sometimes an ebook doesn't cut it. There will never be a perfect substitute for a printed book, be it audio book or ebook. There's just something about curling up with a good book, tea in hand and blankets abound, that never fails to draw me in. I don't honestly think I could give up printed books forever and I don't think I will.
In conclusion, both audio books and print books are wonderful inventions of human imagination and one should not be discounted by the other. I'd say, "Give both a try! Life is full of surprises and you might be surprised when the reading bug bites you!".