Do audiobook count as reading a book

Have you ever found yourself in a debate over whether listening to audiobooks counts as “reading” a book? Well, I’m here to argue that it does. In fact, by the end of this discussion, I hope to convince you that audiobooks provide a valuable and legitimate way of engaging with written content, much like physical, digital, or braille books.

When talking about this subject, context is most definitely key because yes, the action and skills used are very different.

What We Mean by 'Reading Books'

When we talk about reading books, we’re referring to the act of ingesting, understanding, interpreting, and engaging with the content within them. While there are various methods of reading, from flipping through physical pages to scrolling on a screen, the essence remains the same—the words, the narrative, the characters—they all remain intact.

Whether you’re decoding words visually or absorbing them auditory, the process of interpretation and engagement remains consistent. Thus, audiobooks shouldn’t be discounted simply because they require a different mode of consumption.

Deciphering the Meaning of "Reading Words"

‘Reading words’ involves the fundamental skill of comprehending written or printed text. It encompasses tasks like recognising letters, understanding grammar, and deciphering meaning. It’s crucial to acknowledge that reading, regardless of the medium, demands skill and effort. No one is arguing against the validity or difficulty of traditional reading.

Let’s be clear: no one is saying that reading is not a challenging and valuable skill.

Accessibility and Inclusivity in Reading

Reading shouldn’t be restricted to those who can access text visually or through touch. It’s about inclusivity—ensuring that everyone, regardless of their abilities, has the opportunity to engage with literature. Gatekeeping reading based on the medium—be it physical books or audiobooks—only serves to limit access to the joy and benefits of reading.

People get very ampt up and offended around this topic. Especially when tasks are completed differently but achieve the same result (like when using assisted technologies). I think it’s important to embrace diversity in approaches, even if something is oversimplified, and at the end of the day, you’re completing the same task, just differently.

Dispelling Misconceptions and Stereotypes

Unfortunately, audiobooks often face unwarranted criticism. Some claim that opting for audiobooks is a sign of laziness—a narrow-minded viewpoint that fails to appreciate the diverse ways people consume information. Listening to audiobooks is just as valid as reading text on a page, and it’s time we recognise and respect that.

The Similarities Between Reading and Listening

While listening to an audiobook may require different skills than reading text, the cognitive processes involved are remarkably similar. Whether you’re decoding words visually or audibly, you’re still processing language, interpreting meaning, and visualising the story in your mind’s eye.

Analogies to Consider

Think about it this way: when we say an author “writes” a book, we don’t mean they physically write every word with a pen or typewriter. Similarly, driving encompasses various methods of transportation, from cars to bicycles, each serving the same purpose of getting from point A to point B. In the same vein, “reading” encompasses various mediums, including audiobooks.


People often say authors ‘write’ books. However, they don’t necessarily pick up a pen and paper to write. They often use a laptop to type out the book.

The definition of writing is the act of creating text by inscribing characters or symbols on a surface, typically paper, using a pen, pencil, or other writing instrument. However authors most likely type the words on a laptop, this action is still considered writing as they are forming coherent words, sentences, and paragraphs to convey thoughts, ideas, stories, or information. 

The same applies to authors who use voice-to-text technology! They don’t create words from writing or typing and use assisted technologies to write the book. Would you say an author who didn’t physically write the words down (via typing or pen) and instead used voice-to-text, is not an author/writer?

It raises interesting questions about what constitutes ‘writing’ a book, as they aren’t technically writing/typing words out on the page, but the book gets made all the same? E.g. blind authors may use this.

This is parallel with the  question, what constitutes ‘reading’ a book. I hope I was able to highlight that within this blog or via my video


Definition: Driving refers to the act of operating a vehicle, such as a car, truck, or motorcycle, to move from one location to another. It involves controlling the vehicle’s speed, direction, and movement according to traffic laws, road conditions, and safety regulations.

We use the term ‘driving’ for all vehicles, whether it’s a motorcycle or a car.

Motorcycle: Terminology regarding motorcycles can vary depending on the context and the specific action being described particularly in regions where motorcycles are considered vehicles that are driven, the act of operating a motorcycle is often referred to as “driving.” This is similar to how one would “drive” a car.

The action of being a passenger on a motorcycle or simply operating it without the term “driving” is often referred to as “riding.” This term is commonly used to describe the action of being on a motorcycle as either the operator or a passenger.

If we consider audiobooks a format of book (it’s in the name…), the act of consuming and engaging with a book is referred to as reading. Someone is starting and finishing a book, but the action is listening to an audiobook compared to reading words. 

I describe the analogies better in my video explanation on my YouTube channel linked here.

Cars: Just as there are different types of cars (manual, automatic, vehicle assisted cars for those who have no feeling in their legs  etc.). there are different ways to read books.

All are considered driving, even though the actions and means to drive that car are very different. Similarly, whether you’re listening to an audiobook or reading a physical book, both are considered reading. 

Conclusion: Audiobooks Are Reading

In essence, when we talk about reading books, we’re referring to the act of engaging with their content, regardless of the medium. Whether it’s through visual or auditory means, the essence of reading remains unchanged. So, the next time you listen to an audiobook, rest assured that you’re not only reading but also enriching your mind through the power of storytelling. Let’s embrace the diversity of reading experiences and celebrate audiobooks as a legitimate form of literary engagement.

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Creator of The Book List! Hope you enjoy this journey with me, follow my socials (@ashleighsbooklist) for updates for book memes, my latest book reviews and recommendations.

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