Is Audible Faster Or Slower Than Reading? (Basic Facts)

The average person reads 200-400 words per minute.

In comparison to audiobooks, this speed is quite slow. Many people want to maximize their productivity, such as finishing books as quickly as possible.

If you’ve found yourself hooked to Audible’s fantastic library of audiobooks you may be wondering whether or not listening to the audio version of a book is quicker than reading it.

Here’s How Fast You can Read/Listen to Books:

Most people will finish an audiobook faster than reading the same book. Reading speeds are higher than listening speeds, but it is possible to increase the speed of reading. Experienced readers can read up to 600-1, 000 words per minute (WPM), whereas listening speed is limited to around 450WPM. 

Books stacked in a row with spines facing up. White headphone rest on the books.

Average Words-Per-Minute for Reading & Listening

It’s time to crunch some numbers and really see how reading and listening compare.

On average, somebody reading a book will take in between 200-400 words per minute.  That’s about 12,000-24,000 words in an hour.

When it comes to listening you may be surprised to learn that, on average, we listen to 150-160 words per minute.

So, if you’re listening for an hour to an audiobook you can expect to consume 9,000 – 9,600 words.

In fact, there’s evidence to suggest that despite being able to listen at 300 words per minute, we’ll have difficulty experiencing the nuance or emotive qualities of what we are trying to comprehend.

It seems that there’s no doubt about it, the figures speak for themselves, reading is the fastest way to read a book because the average number of words per minute consumed is always higher than listening.

Moreover, good readers can take in about 600 WPM and those with expertise can read as many as 1000 WPM!

Do People Remember Books Better When Reading or Listening?

There is some debate over whether listening to a book can be as powerful as reading it from the page. 

For example, listening to a book may bring it alive in a new and exciting manner via the narrator’s performance. That same performance holds our attention and cements the story in our memory.

However, reading a printed book does not allow for as many distractions as audio content does. To read a book you need to be fairly motionless and your eyes must stay fixed on the page.

Reading requires more effort than listening and, therefore, more concentration. This level of concentration will naturally bring more focus to the content and will therefore improve the chance that the information will be stored.

In the end, the best way to remember what’s in a book is how you engage with the material. If you prefer listening, then you may remember an audiobook far better than slogging your way through the paper book.

However, if you find you are easily distracted then it may be worth pulling out your headphones and turning to page 1.

Please also check out our article about how much Audible Books cost!

How Fast does Audible Read?

Audible audiobooks will of course have different narrators, each with their own style and speed in which they read.

However, Audible does have a standard speed at which all books are played. This standard default speed is 1.0x.

That might not mean a whole lot to you, so let’s break it down:

Audible’s 1.0x speed will roughly equate to 150 words per minute. This happens to be a standard speed of narration that almost all spoken word content is played at on audiobook platforms.

No matter which audiobook you purchase or stream from Audible’s catalog it will play at this speed setting unless you decide to change it yourself.

You should learn about how many books you can get on Audible each month!

How can the Reading Speed be Adjusted with Audible?

If Audible’s default speed of 1.0x doesn’t suit your listening style and you either want to slow down your narrator, or fly through the book as quickly as possible, then Audible allows for adjustments to be made.

  • Audible’s reading speed can be adjusted in increments of 0.1.
  • There are a total of 31 speeds to choose from.
  • The lowest speed is 0.5x and the highest is 3.5x.

If you want to adjust the reading speed on your device then just follow these steps:

Here’s How to Change Audible’s Reading Speed on iOS

  1. Launch the Audible app on your device.
  2. From the Home Screen tap Library.
  3. Find the audiobook you wish to play and tap it to open the Player.
  4. Find the default speed setting on the lower left-hand side of the Player screen.
    • This can be identified by ‘1.0x’.
  5. Tap the default narration speed and you will be shown the full list of speeds available.
    • 0.5x to 3.5x (a total of 31 reading speeds).
  6. Select your preferred reading speed.

Here’s How to Change the Audible Reading Speed on Android

  1. With the Audible app open on your device, find the audiobook you want to listen to from the Library.
  2. Tap the title to enter the Player screen.
  3. At the bottom of the Player you will see the word ‘Speed’.
  4. Tap ‘Speed’ and you will be shown the 31-speed options that are available.
  5. Tap the reading speed you desire.

Please also take a look at our article about how long you can keep your Audible books!

What Speed Setting is Needed for Listening to be as Quick as Reading?

If you want to be able to listen as quickly as you can read then you’ll need to make some adjustments to the playback of your audiobook.

As previously mentioned, the average reading speed is between 200-400 words per minute. Additionally, there are some experienced readers out there who can hit the 1000 mark of words per minute, too!

So, in order to get your listening up to the speed of that of an average reader, you’d need to be somewhere around 300 words per minute.

If you consider that most audiobooks played at the standard 1.0x speed will read you 150 words per minute then you’ll need to double that speed to make it to 300 words per minute.

If you turn up your speed to 2.0x then you’ll be listening at the average reading speed. However, as Uri Hasson, a neuroscientist from Princeton found:

“(…) the average person comprehension losses begin around 2x speed (300wpm) and become massive after 3x speed (450wpm).

[Source: blogs.unimelb.edu.au]

Is it Recommended to Turn Up the Reading Speed with Audiobooks?

The idea of speed listening has really kicked off and there are many people who celebrate the practice, and wouldn’t dream of going back to standard speed.

In this fast-paced world, people want to consume content fast and efficiently. This can be especially important to those who are studying and learning. 

Despite reading being the quickest way to absorb content, listening to audiobooks has some major benefits.

If you are reading a book you cannot multitask and complete other activities, such as driving, cleaning, cooking, etc.

However, audiobooks allow this form of multitasking. What’s more, they can be sped up so that the difference between the average speed of reading and listening becomes more aligned with one another.

Remember, although it is entirely possible to become a speed listener and absorb the content you need fast, it is not something that can happen overnight. Speed listeners recommend starting off slow, adjusting the speed little by little to give your mind a chance to adjust itself.

One of the main drawbacks of speed listening is that the emotive quality of the book is likely to be lost, as is the intended style of the narration. 

This is perhaps why fictional audiobooks are not best suited to an increase in speed, whereas information-driven books that do not require an emotional understanding are favored for speed listening.

Sources

How can I Change the Narration Speed on the Audible App?

Is An Audiobook Faster Than Reading? [Here’s the Truth!]

How to Speed Listen (For Students or Podcasters)

Are Audiobooks As Good For You As Reading? Here’s What Experts Say

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