If you’ve been an avid podcast listener for years but haven’t gotten into audiobooks, you may be missing out. Podcasts are informative and entertaining, and listening to podcasts can be a great way to gain basic knowledge of a topic or get new perspectives on an issue. But when it comes to well-researched, highly organized information, audiobooks are hard to beat.
Luckily, at Scribd, you don’t have to choose between podcasts and audiobooks, since you can listen to both. Still, if you’ve only been listening to podcasts, you may want to try an audiobook instead. Here, we’ll dig into seven reasons books are better than podcasts for gaining a deeper understanding of a topic:
1. Podcasts skim the surface
It’s happened to everyone: You’re listening to a podcast with an author who sounds fasciating. The premise for their book — a memoir, a novel, a biography, a nonfiction, or self-help book — is scintillating. You can’t wait to learn more, until you’re interrupted by a commercial break before the closing credits roll. Podcasts are great for getting a taste of something, but audiobooks will give you hours of listening enjoyment where you’re able to truly dig into a single concept. By the end of the book, you’ll have gained an impressive amount of knowledge about the topic, rather than a quick overview.
2. Audiobooks aid retention
This is especially relevant if you’re listening to books and podcasts in the self-help genre. With podcasts, it’s easy to bounce through 20 different 30-minute episodes containing great tips and advice in the span of a week, but because you got so much information and so many ideas at once, it’s nearly impossible to retain it all. For example, you could listen to dozens of podcasts about productivity and learn hundreds of hacks (some that might even be in direct opposition to each other) but listening to Michael Hyatt’s Living Forward might give you a clearer road map to the productive life you want to lead.
3. Fact-checking standards are different
We’re specifically talking about ‘commercially published’ audiobooks, meaning the book has been published through a reputable publisher and has been through several rounds of edits. This isn’t to say that every book provides strictly factual content or that no podcast is fact-checked, of course, but generally, audiobooks will only state facts and quote studies that are able to be linked in the citations. On podcasts, it’s pretty common to hear a vague mention of ‘a study’ that the speaker saw in order to back up a point, but rarely is it linked in the show notes.
4. Nuance can get lost in podcasts
In comparing listening to an audiobook to listening to an interview on a podcast with the author, the podcast will miss a lot of the background around an idea or topic. For instance, while Getting Things Done author David Allen may explain his two-minute rule on an episode of Beyond the To Do List, you won’t necessarily learn exactly how important that rule is to his overarching system for getting things done that you’d get in his book. Of course, the podcast could be a great introduction to this rule that the audiobook would explore in depth.
5. The key points get boiled down in an audiobook
On the flip side, there are plenty of authors who have their own podcasts, and sometimes, their catalog of 500 episodes can feel overwhelming. Sometimes, it’s better to listen to an audiobook by the podcast host/author first. For instance, stream the audiobook of Jenna Kutcher’s How Are You Really?, before digging into her extensive archives in the Goal Digger podcast. This way, you have an outline of what’s really important to the podcaster, and every episode will simply be added information.
6. Audiobooks emphasize great writing
Podcasts are conversations. Audiobooks are the exact reading of the author’s book, with every sentence intact. So in addition to gaining valuable information and insights when listening, you’ll also hear great sentence composition, which may influence your own writing whether you compose emails, reports, or books of your own. In an audiobook, there are no annoying ‘umms’ or ‘likes,’ which is a pretty big bonus.
7. Commercials or sponsored ad reads
This doesn’t require an explanation. Commercials aren’t inherently evil, but they are typically annoying. In an audiobook, you’ll seamlessly flow from one chapter to the next without interruption.
About the Author: Molly Hurford
Molly is a writer and bookworm in love with all things wellness related. When not playing outside, she’s writing or podcasting about being outside and healthy habits for The Consummate Athlete. She also writes books, including the Shred Girls series. In her spare time, she runs, rides bikes, and hikes with her mini-dachshund and husband.