Listening Is Reading: The Power of Audiobooks

By Kate Schefer, Digital Products Coordinator

When I was growing up, my mom used to commute a lot as a consultant for schools around our state. At some point, one of her friends introduced her to the Outlander series. She thought, this sounds great but I have no time to read! So she downloaded all of the audiobooks to her phone and played them while she drove around for work. Her commute was more enjoyable, and she got to keep up with a popular series. Audiobooks have the power to do that and even more for our students.

Why We Need Audiobooks

In March, I went to Toronto to present at ebookcraft, which is a conference just for ebook developers like me. My boss and I led a workshop on how to make your own audiobooks in-house. If your publisher hasn’t made audiobooks yet, it may seem like a big jump to incorporate a whole new format into the workflow. But we showed them a few ways to manage the workload, compile them yourself (instead of hiring an outside company), and abide by distributor standards. It was great to see where other publishers were at, and see how far we’ve come in just a few years.

Audiobooks: A Burgeoning Industry

It’s not hard to convince publishers to get into audiobooks. While I was in Canada, I learned that few audiobook distributors existed before a year or two ago. There just wasn’t the market for audio content that we’ve had in the US for a while. Now that more retailers have platforms for audiobooks, publishers are responding in big ways to get their content out there. On the last day of the conference, CEO and President of BookNet Canada, Noah Genner, reported new annual statistics for reading habits. Audiobook usage is up to 34%, with 15% of readers listening to audiobooks on a weekly basis, and 54% doing so on their smartphones. The more people listen to audiobooks, the stronger the case for making them available and accessible everywhere.

The Benefits of Audiobooks

Countless articles, studies, and even infographics have been written to convey the immediate and sizable benefits of listening to audiobooks. The most important myths to squash are that listening to a book is cheating, and that listening doesn’t help build comprehension and vocabulary in the same way. Audiobooks are just like having a book read to you, and we know how much emphasis is put on parents to read to their young children. Why wouldn’t we apply the same principles to all children?

Audiobooks are for every type of learner, but can be especially helpful for ESL/ELL students and struggling readers. They can improve vocabulary, as professional narration guides them through tricky pronunciations. They bypass anxiety around decoding written words and go straight to building background knowledge, connections between concepts, and overall comprehension. Most importantly, they can help catch those students up to feel accommodated and on-track with their peers. As we head into the summer break, this can be an important strategy to use with every student.

Where to Find Lerner Audiobooks

Here at Lerner, we’ve been building a steady catalog of audiobooks over the past few years. Previously, you’ve only been able to purchase them through outside distributors and retailers. We hoped to sell them directly one day, so you can keep all your Lerner Digital products in one place, and now you can! Starting this August, many of our backlist audiobooks — and all of our frontlist audiobooks — will be available for purchase through us. Check out our complete list here, and get ready to enjoy an expanded reading — and listening! — experience with Lerner.

For a FREE 30-Day trial of other types of Lerner Digital products, sign up here.

More posts by Kate.

2 thoughts on “Listening Is Reading: The Power of Audiobooks

  1. janefharrington

    Hi Kate–
    I’m a backlist author at Lerner, with two books for young teens that I think would be super fun in audio editions. The books are FOUR THINGS MY GEEKY-JOCK-OF-A-BEST-FRIEND MUST DO IN EUROPE and MY BEST FRIEND, THE ATLANTIC OCEAN, AND OTHER GREAT BODIES STANDING BETWEEN ME AND MY LIFE WITH GIULIO. Thought I’d make the suggestion since you seem to be expanding your offerings. I am personally a huge fan of audiobooks!

    Jane Harrington

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