7 Pros and 7 Cons of Audiobooks

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I just finished my first audiobook. And it was an experience worth sharing:

I had been reading reviews and blog posts and tweets about Seth Godin’s newest book, Linchpin. Went to a couple of bookshops on my way to work/home; it wasn’t available. So I went to Amazon.com to order one. I was at Amazon after a long time, and was surprised to see the options available: Kindle (ebook download), hardcover, paperback, audio CD and audio download. Audio download looked like the fastest option so I checked it out. It took me to Audible.com – an Amazon company, where an audio download was being offered for just USD7.49 with a new membership! I signed up, paid the money, downloaded the book, and started listening to it right away! The benefits:

1. It’s fast. I was listening to the book after just a few clicks in few minutes.

2. It’s cheap. Book versions were USD13-25.

3. It’s convenient. I copied the file to my iPhone to listen during my commute to and from work.

4. It’s safe. A copy each on my computer, iPhone and backup is likely to last (damage-free) as long as I wish.

5. It takes no space. So less clutter. No worries about whether to keep, sell off, recycle or give-away.

6. It’s environment-friendly. No paper, ink, chemicals.

7. It’s comfortable. For someone who spends a lot of time in front of computers or books, this is a good break for the eyes. You can listen while standing, walking or lying down.

And the disadvantages:

1. You need technology – computer, Internet access, applications like iTunes, and power supply

2. You need a handheld device to maximize the use of audiobooks – iPhone, iPod or any other MP3 player

3. You need a credit card for online purchase

4. You can’t share. I love giving away my books to someone who might enjoy/benefit. Most audiobooks can’t be shared on multiple computers/accounts.

5. You can’t refer as easily. I like to go back to particular passages in my favorite books for inspiration/information/sharing. In audiobooks, you can fast-forward to chapters but it’s difficult to go to the exact passage you are looking for.

6. You can lose it easily – unless you have a good backup system.

7. You become anti-social. Your chances of interesting conversations with strangers greatly diminish if you go around with headphones in your ears.

On balance, I think it depends on your lifestyle, circumstances and even the kind of book you want to read. Please take a few minutes to share your views through comments: Have you tried an audiobook? If not, will you? What other pros and cons can you think of?

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