Opinion

Podcasts vs. Audiobooks in the Era of Multitasking

By Giovanna Brasolin

g.brasolinmaistro@spartans.ut.edu

From generation to generation, time becomes more precious and we seem to have a lack of it. Nowadays, everything is just so fast that we barely have time to keep up with it. That concept became evident to some during the pandemic, including me, as the days started to blur. With the current push for multitasking both in professional fields and in daily lives, two forms of audio beyond music are becoming more popular: podcasts and audiobooks. It doesn’t matter if you’re working, studying, working out, or even doing household chores, they’re a great way to make the time pass faster whenever you’re doing something boring.

Adult book lovers sometimes have trouble finding time in their schedule to sit down and read a book. However, audiobooks are a thing and they’re here to stay. You can subscribe to platforms like Audible, Scribd, Audiobooks.com, Libro.fm, and so on for the most recent releases as well as some older ones. In fact, for those who appreciate classic novels, Audible has a selection of the best audiobooks, including some with a full cast of people voicing the characters. 

If you are on a budget, don’t fret. You can still find classic audiobooks online for free on websites like LibriVox, Project Gutenberg, Open Culture, or even Spotify. The only problem is that they’re quite dull most of the time as there’s only one person using different tones of voice to represent different characters. 

Audiobooks are able to transport you into a new world without having to stop what you’re doing. You can fall in love, cry, or feel angry toward a character or a situation while still being productive. The best part of it all is that the audiobook versions tend to be way cheaper than the physical books. 

Spotify also has a wide variety of podcasts of different genres and lengths. You might be looking for true crime, comedy, self-growth, or business, and you’ll be  able to find it all there. Some are only a few minutes long compared to some which are over an hour long. Some of them have more than one host and bring special guests for conversations and interviews whereas others are hosted by only one individual. 

Other platforms where you can find podcasts are Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Audible. However, some podcasts that also have a visual version might be available on YouTube or on an exclusive app, like Dive Studios does. 

Now, which one is nicer? An audiobook or a podcast? Well, some podcasts can be more informative while others are more conversational and you know the topic you are going to listen to from the title of each episode. However, with audiobooks, you may know the synopsis, but the rest is a surprise. 

I personally listen to more audiobooks than podcasts and my favorites are those with a full cast. That’s because, unlike most podcasts, there are different voices and it just makes the visualization of the scenes better. So, in that regard, it achieves exactly what it needs to, which is telling a story. Two of my favorite audiobooks are The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid and The Diviners by Libba Bray.

As for podcasts, I need to be really interested in the topic, otherwise, I zone out. Since most people who listen to podcasts seem to be wanting to learn something, that works out for them. Some of the podcasts that I like listening to are Rotten Mango (true crime), TedTalksDaily, and the Daily Shine Podcast (self-growth) as I learn a lot from them. 

The pros and cons for both podcasts and audiobooks have some overlap. On the one hand, they’re convenient because you can listen to them anywhere at the speed which you want, be it 1x, 2x, or even 3x speed. Besides that, audiobooks don’t hurt your eyes like reading for hours or reading an ebook can typically do. Lastly, they have great entertainment value. 

On the other hand, sometimes your brain can’t process what the narrator or podcaster is saying at the speed at which you are listening to it, so you might forget what you just heard easily. You may become unresponsive to those around you as you’re paying attention to what is being said and that can cause strains in your interpersonal relationships. On a more superficial level, you might not like the voice of the narrator or podcasts. And especially for podcasts, you might need to have a lot of time to listen to them as they can be lengthy.

All in all, there’s no right or wrong choice when it comes to audiobooks and podcasts. It’s more about what you’re looking for. If you are looking to learn about a topic, maybe you should listen to a podcast. However, if you are seeking a story, an audiobook might satisfy that need. 

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