The Benefits of Audiobooks


For many readers of crime fiction and other genres, there’s nothing quite like the feel of a good book in your hands. Nevertheless, Audiobooks have made a big impact on reading habits – and studies have shown that listening to books offers many of the same benefits as reading. If you haven’t jumped on the audiobook bandwagon, here are a few benefits of audiobooks that may compel you to make your next mystery novel an ear-grabber rather than a page-turner.

Some of the resistance readers have to Audiobooks comes from a fear of missing something. If we don’t read it with our own eyes, we might not get everything. However, studies show that reading and listening are similar cognitive processes, so good readers make good listeners. When it comes to the benefits of audiobooks – the first is that our ears are trained to pick up subtle cues in the musicality of language, cutting out the next for context or interpretation. You’ll also benefit from the narrator – who may emphasize a passage, add emotion, or elevate the suspense in a way you’d never imagine. To that end, memoirs, autobiographies or books read by their authors translate particularly well to audiobooks.

One of the major benefits of audiobooks is that they give you more time to read – which means you may finally get through some of those novels on your reading list. You can listen to three or four audiobooks in the time it takes to read one mystery novel. If you’re catching up on older books in your favorite detective series or you’re working your way through a list of classic crime noir titles to read, Audiobooks can quickly turn your “must reads” into favorite reads.

Of course, books on tape require focus if you want to get the same benefits of reading – but then again, so does reading. If your mind is elsewhere, you may linger on the same page for an hour.  In the same way, you’ll have to train your ears to listen. With MP3 audiobooks, it’s easy to rewind while you’re getting the hang of it, and once you do, studies show that listening comprehension is generally similar in accuracy to reading comprehension.

To maximize the benefits of audiobooks, treat them the same way you would your favorite paperback. Listen to good audiobooks while you’re doing easy tasks– like walking the dog, or baking cookies. Experts recommend sticking with simple material – works of fiction or narrative nonfiction – since complicated texts are better suited to reading. Start with books that are familiar – your favorite thriller or one of my Jack Davis thrillers like The Dead Man – while you get used to active listening.

If you buy ebooks from Amazon, you can buy Audiobooks at a reduced cost – and with compatible books, you can take advantage of WhisperSync. It allows you to alternate between the ebook and audiobook without losing your place. This feature is available for many of my books, including Lou Mason thrillers like Deadlocked and my new Alex Stone book, Chasing the Dead.

For many of us, audiobooks will never completely replace books, but they can be a great supplement to a regular reading repertoire. Try a book on tape next time you’re painting the house or working in the garden and experience the benefits of audiobooks for yourself.