Do using ebooks and audiobooks actually count as ‘reading’?

Today we are faced with a plethora of different literature media and styles. From physical books to ebooks to audiobooks. From novels to poetry anthologies to short stories. From comics to manga to digital comics to fanfiction to online articles to romance to classics to young adult fiction to smut to…

Well, you get the idea.

But is this really reading‘? Is reading simply confined to reading words from a physical book? Do listening to audiobooks, reading ebooks, or other digital forms of reading ‘count’ as really reading?

I say yes, absolutely. Sure, I have never fully listened to an audiobook and I certainly always prefer reading from a physical hardcopy. However, I will always defend the fact that reading an ebook (yes, even reading one on a phone) and listening to an audiobook absolutely both count as reading.

In fact, though I’ve never really gotten into audiobooks or ebooks, I think they’re fantastic. Many people may simply prefer to read through these mediums, so for them it’s a great option. However, as well as offering different reading choices, for many people these different media provide greater accessibility and customisation options.

Benefits of ebooks

  • Can store (and access) thousands of books in one device
  • Don’t have to carry around an entire physical book when you are out and about (especially if the ebooks are accessed on someone’s phone, which they would likely already carry around with them)
  • Access to a wider range of books beyond just whichever books happen to be available to you in your local libraries or bookstores
  • Access to books in a wider range of languages
  • You don’t have to physically lift, hold, and turn the pages of a physical book—this is great for so many people who are unable to hold a book for longer than a few minutes, or for those who struggle to hold items steadily
  • Books can be accessed digitally and remotely—which is fantastic for those who do not have local access to many books, or for those who physically (or financially!) cannot continually travel to a library or a bookstore
  • Words, brightness, colours and font sizes can be customised according to the needs of the reader—this is very helpful for people with difficulties focusing on or reading words in certain fonts, or who have troubles reading small fonts

Benefits of audiobooks

  • People with visual impairments are able to read audibly
  • People with difficulties focusing on a book when there is a lot of background noise can read a book by listening to it, or can even listen along while reading (blocking external sounds)
  • People with word-processing difficulties can read by listening to the words or by listening while reading
  • Those who struggle to focus on and read words can opt for an audiobook instead, or can follow along with an audiobook
  • People who get headaches and/or eyestrain easily can read for lengthier amounts of time by using audiobooks
  • People who want to read in a language they are not 100% fluent in can read or follow along with an audiobook
  • Those who are often busy can read while completing tasks or working
  • One can put down a physical book because they need to go out and continue to read from where they left off by listening to an audiobook while commuting

There will always be gatekeepers who believe that there is a specific binary between what is, and what isn’t, reading. That’s fine. You do you. Read anyway. Read what you want, how you want. Read.

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