Audible & Reading Speed: 8 Answers (Explained)

Audible has allowed thousands of avid audiobook lovers the ability to consume fantastic content all without the need to actually pick up a real book.

However, the amount of time it takes to read a book, or in Audible’s case, listen to a book, really matters to people in this fast-paced world.

In this article, we take a look at the big questions in regards to reading speeds and Audible.

Everything You Need To Know About Reading Speeds & Audible

The default narration speed is 1.0x which reflects a reading speed of roughly 150 words per minute (WPM). On average, a book reader can process 300 WPM, with some readers having the ability to read up to 1000 words per minute, which exceeds the possible WPM of an audiobook. 

Despite this, the trend of ‘speed listening’ has risen due to the ability to increase narration speeds on apps such as Audible. 

What Is The Standard Reading Speed On Audible?

All audiobooks purchased by customers on Audible have a default speed of 1.0x.

This default speed that Audible has set for its books equates to roughly 135-180 words per minute and is the standard narration speed for most spoken word content on audiobook platforms.

The exact number of words per minute (WPM) can vary considerably between the different narrators on Audible because, naturally, each person will talk at a different speed.

How Can The Reading Speed Be Adjusted With Audible?

Audible allows its users to manually adjust the narration speed of every purchased audiobook from the default setting of 1.0x.

Whether you want to slow down an audiobook and really soak in all the details of the story, or you want to speed it up and complete the book faster, you can be safe in the knowledge that Audible can always provide you with the best option.

Audible has 31 speeds available, starting at 0.5x and going up in 0.1 increments.

To adjust the speed, all you have to do is follow the steps below:

Read our blog here about how many audiobooks on Audible?

To Adjust Narrator Speed On iOS App

  1. Open the Audible app on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. You will automatically be taken to the Home Screen.
  3. On the bottom of your screen you will see the four options:
    • Home, Library, Discover, and Profile.
  4. Tap on Library.
  5. From here, tap on a previously downloaded audiobook of which you wish to adjust the narration speed.
  6. The Player screen will now open.
  7. On the bottom left-hand side of your screen, you will see ‘1.0x’.
    • This is the default narration speed.
  8. Tap this and you will see a list of speeds from 0.5x-3.5x.
  9. Scroll up and down and select the narration speed that you desire.

To Adjust The Narrator Speed On Android App

  1. Open the Audible App on your android device.
  2. In your library choose which Audible book you wish to change the narration speed of.
  3. From here, navigate to the Player screen of the chosen audiobook.
  4. On the bottom of your screen, you will see 4 options, tap on ‘Speed’.
  5. From here you can scroll through the options (0.5x-3.5x) and choose the desired speed.

Audible allows its customers to adjust the speed at the same time as also listening to the audiobook, which is incredibly useful as you do not need to pause the narration to find the best speed.

It’s worth noting that you will not have the option to adjust the narration speed with any audiobook that was synced using iTunes, so it is always best to use the app when you can.

Audiobooks synced with iTunes will need their speed adjusted via the inbuilt music player on your device if the option is available.

What Is The Fastest & Slowest You Can Choose On Audible?

Audible allows its members to adjust the reading speed according to their own specific tastes.

In total there are 31 speeds available to users, so there’s no doubt that you’ll find a speed that you can be satisfied with.

  • The slowest narration speed that Audible offers is 0.5x.
  • The fastest speed Audible users can adjust the narration to is 3.5x.

The default speed is 1.0x, so if you adjust the reading speed to 2.0x then you will be adjusting the speed to double that of the default.

To put this simply, an audiobook that is 20 hours long will only take 10 hours to listen to at a speed of 2.0x.

Read our blog here about how much do Audible books cost?

At What Speed Do People Normally Listen To Audible?

On average, most Audible customers will listen to audiobooks at the standard speed of 1.0x.

This is because it is the default recorded speed of all of the audiobooks in the Audible catalog.

However, there is a new trend called “speed-listening” surfacing amongst avid audiobook and podcast listeners due to the new ability to easily adjust narration speeds.

This trend is pretty self-explanatory; people are listening to audiobooks and podcasts faster than the default 1.0x in order to take in information quicker and more efficiently.

Audible has stated that at least 5% of their customers have attempted to, or even regularly, listen to audiobooks at a speed of 1.5x and up.

This is clearly not the majority of customers, but as with most trends, you never know how quickly others will catch on.

Do People Remember Less When Listening At High Speed?

If you’ve entered, or are thinking about entering into the fast-paced world of speed listening, then you’ll probably be wondering whether all this accelerated information is going to stay inside your head.

Scientists have done some extensive research and found that the main factor that will determine if your speed of listening is successful will be dependent on what you do after you’ve put down the headphones.

  • Reflecting on what you’ve heard after you finish listening will greatly improve the chances of recalling it.
  • Successfully storing information within our memories is interlinked with how much we contemplate that same information.
  • Thinking deeply about the topic you’ve listened to will increase the chances that you will retain the information.

The brain remembers information far better if it can create associations with it. Audible’s own blog post on the matter backs this up by explaining:

“(…)you can get better results from speed listening when you’re listening to a topic you already know a bit about.”

How Good Is The Sound Quality When You Speed Up Audible?

Audible has fantastic sound quality, even when sped up.

It’s worth pointing out that Audible’s sound quality falls into two brackets – the Enhanced format and Format 4.

  • Format 4 is to save on storage space and has a bitrate of 32kbps.
  • Enhanced has a bitrate of 64kbps.

Speeding up the narration should not affect the audio quality and there have been huge improvements to ensure that listening at higher speeds is a breeze due to pitch correction on playback.

Can You Fast-Forward An Audiobook On Audible?

If you’re listening to an audiobook on Audible that you’ve listened to before, or you’re trying to find a particular passage in the story, then you’re probably looking for a way to fast-forward.

Thankfully, fast-forwarding through an audiobook on Audible is simple and straightforward so long as you have got to grips with the player screen.

The Buttons You Need To Know To Fast-Forward On Audible

There are a few ways to skip ahead and fast-forward in Audible and there are different buttons that will help you do just that.

  1. Skipping Chapters
    • To fast-forward an entire chapter you need to tap the ‘Next Chapter‘ symbol which looks like the ‘play’ symbol (a triangle), but with a vertical line next to it.
    • Tapping this will automatically bring you to the start of the next chapter in the book.
  2. Jump 30 Seconds Forward
    • If you want to skip ahead by exactly 30 seconds then simply press the corresponding button.
    • You’ll find this button directly to the right of the ‘Play’ symbol.
  3. Scrubbing Forwards
    • If you want to have more control over where you are fast-forwarding to then you can slide your finger across the progress bar.
    • The progress bar can be found just below the title of the chapter you are on.
    • Take your finger and drag horizontally along the bar to fast-forward.
    • You can reduce the speed of ‘scrubbing‘ by dragging downwards or, alternatively, increase the speed by dragging up.

There is also the option to adjust the 30-second jump button to a different interval of your choosing:

  1. Open up the ‘Settings‘ menu in your Audible App.
  2. Scroll down to ‘Playback Settings‘.
  3. Find the option for ‘Jump Forward/Back‘ and select it.
  4. You can now choose your specific interval from 10-90 seconds.

Do People Read Faster Than They Hear Audiobooks?

Sometimes we want to digest a book as quickly as possible.

The reasons for getting through a book can range from needing to cram in as much information in the quickest time possible, to being so swept away in the narrative that we can’t get to the end soon enough.

Speeding through content is an important factor for many of us, so here are the facts when it comes to the differences between reading a book and listening to it:

  • Reading speeds are always higher than listening speeds.
  • When you read a book straight from the page, you’ll read between 200-400 words per minute.
  • In comparison, when listening to an audiobook, you’ll hear between 150-160 words per minute.
  • These word counts are based on average reader speeds.

The reason for this difference is due to the fact that humans speak, on average, around 135-160 words per minute.

We do, however, have the ability to understand more words than that per minute:

“According to a 2018 University of Washington study, the average person can comprehend around 300 words per minute of listening. This is about double the average talking speed of an American English speaker. At more than 300 words per minute, most people can still understand the words, but they have less emotional resonance.”

This fact underpins why audiobooks are narrated at the speeds that they are; the slower pace of narration allows listeners to feel the emotional qualities of the book.

However, when it comes to reading a book straight off the page, the potential amount of words that we can take in is staggeringly high.

  • Although the average reader can consume 300 words per minute, humans have the ability to do much better.
  • A decent reader can achieve 600 words per minute.
  • A master of speed reading can even hit 1000 words per minute.

There’s no doubt about it, reading from a book is always faster than listening to an audiobook.

Audiobooks will usually take double the amount of time to finish than their paper counterparts.

However, when it comes to audiobooks, speed may not be what you’re looking for, and instead, audiobooks provide a leisurely, and perhaps, more emotive journey through the content.

Sources

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