If you love audiobooks then you use them all the time and credit the format with giving you a chance to read all those books you don’t have time for; and if you hate them, chances are you are too polite to say so (or you gave up on audiobooks at a point when you merely felt a mild dislike for the spoken book).
That’s what I’ve always believed, and now I have a half-baked theory to explain it. Joshua Kim posted this over on Inside Higher Ed last week:
My half-baked hypothesis is that audiobooks are just too slow for really fast readers. An audiobook, at non chipmunk speed, goes by at about 150-160 words per minute (wpm). The average reader reads words on a page at about 300 wpm. Very fast readers, so I understand, read by looking at the text more as a whole – and then by pulling together all the threads to form a narrative. In other words, very fast readers are less linear in their reading. According to one source I found, the average college professor reads at about 675 wpm, and true speed reader can read at about 1,500 wpm.
If you are a nonlinear reader, and your brain requires a very high throughput of information to stay happy, then an audiobook probably will not work for you. The audiobook information delivery is too linear and too slow.
I think he’s right. This would explain why I can’t get into audiobooks, and it would also explain why I don’t listen to podcasts.
To put it simply, people talk too slow. It’s not just the pauses for effect or breathing, but simply that people can’t talk as fast as I can process information. It’s why I can’t stand podcasts (and can barely tolerate informational videos), and it also explains the requests for text summaries of podcasts.
Yes, there are platforms which let you control the playback speed but that still doesn’t come close to matching my reading speed.
I’m betting that if you listen to audiobooks or podcasts then you probably do so while busy with another activity: driving to work, perhaps, or exercising.
Am I wrong?
And while we’re on the topic, how fast do you read? (you can check your reading speed here)
image by meddygarnet