Is listening to audiobooks better than reading actual books?

Published October 29, 2021, 10:25 AM

by John Legaspi

Audiophile, a platform for Filipino audiobooks, says ‘there is no need to choose’

Reading a book is a personal experience. It can take you to wonderworlds, wars, and even destinations on distant galaxies all through the artful combination of words. As you read through every sentence, your imagination grows bigger, smaller—or stranger!—depending on what page you’re on. It is a journey like no other. And with the release of so many ebooks, the range of your selection becomes endless that you don’t even need a library card to access some.

This has been the case for many Filipinos during the pandemic, they have discovered ways, new and old, to busy themselves as they stay at home, one of which is to rekindle their reading relationship with their favorite authors. As stores were closed, ebooks became the go-to for local bookworms. While this was a great way to spend time during the onset of the pandemic, it also greatly contributed to the amount of time Filipinos spend on their devices, which is becoming unhealthy as the minutes continue to become hours.

To help Filipino bibliophiles get a break from the screens but from their love for literature, Bookshelf PH, a marketplace for books and ebooks, created a new platform for them to enjoy their reads with lesser screen time and a whole new experience. A digital hub for Filipino romance audiobooks, Audiophile is on a mission to elevate the Pinoy audiobook industry to the level it has achieved in other literary markets. Romance titles, from contemporary and Tagalog to LGBTQIA+ genres, are produced in-house using best-in-class production standards, supervised by a lead audio engineer who has overseen production for more than 50 global titles.

Photo from Audiophile

“For most Filipino listeners around the world, audiobooks represent a new, convenient way to experience Pinoy stories, but they can also improve access, such as for the differently-abled or the new to reading,” the brand says. “Audiobooks also provide an additional revenue stream for authors and publishers, and give rise to many affiliated industries, such as voice acting.”

In a conversation with Manila Bulletin Lifestyle, Bookshelf PH’s Kyle Nate tells more about Audiophile, the benefits of listening to audiobooks, and sets the record straight on which one is better, hearing narrations or reading them straight from the pages.

What is the story of Audiophile?

The population of Filipinos that read recreationally is still small. We don’t believe this is for lack of interest but access. Finding books that we want to read, and in the manner that is most convenient for us to do so, is still difficult. Bookshelf PH was founded in this regard. We wanted to make it easier for Filipinos to find print and digital books that interest them. Audiophile is an extension of this mission. By their very nature, audiobooks are easier to consume since they are screen-free, you can consume them passively while doing other tasks, such as chores, errands, and exercise. We believe the advent of audiobooks in the Philippines will make it easier for more Filipinos to consume both fiction and non-fiction content.

What does Audiophile consider in including titles in its library? Is it exclusive to Filipino authors?

We are open to any fiction or nonfiction titles that speak to the Filipino experience. These can be written by Filipino authors here in the Philippines, or even our compatriots abroad. These can also be authored by non-Filipinos, so long as the title applies to the Philippines in some way. In short, we want our library to offer the localization that consumers have come to expect of their media platforms.

Are you working with other groups in turning books into audio content?

We are working with many different stakeholders in the publishing industry to turn their books into audio content. This is a broad range of stakeholders, including everyone from third-party publishers and anthology editors to self-published authors and thought leaders. Most stakeholders are still relatively new to the medium—since the genre is still nascent in the Philippines—so we’re happy to lend our expertise in successfully adapting their work into audiobook form.

What are the benefits of using Audiophile? How do audiobooks help reduce the negative effects associated with screen time (such as mental health) during a pandemic?

We believe one of the biggest advantages of audiobooks is that they can be consumed screen-free. During this new normal, most of us are in front of our devices around the clock for both work and leisure. Audiobooks offer a welcome respite from screens since they can be consumed on-the-go. You can double the mental health break that audiobooks offer by also doing something productive while listening, such as taking a walk or exercising. In this regard, audiobooks represent a healthy break from the connectedness that our new work-life requires.

In terms of experience, is listening to an audiobook better than reading a book?

We don’t believe audiobooks and books are mutually exclusive. People who like to primarily read books would also like to listen to them via audio, and vice versa for people who primarily like to consume audiobooks. There is no need to choose. In fact, we like to think of books and audiobooks as complementary to one another. An avid reader could read more books per year by consuming some of them via audio when he cannot sit down to open a book but can listen to a narrator, or even continue a book he is reading in print or digital through its audio version. This is the effect of audiobooks on an individual level. We anticipate that audiobooks in the aggregate will help Filipinos consume more books, and in turn, experience all the benefits that a greater reading culture brings.

What can people expect next from Audiophile?

We’re launching more audiobooks in different genres, including everything from business to horror. Our app is also soon going live for both Android and iOS. Stay tuned!

Know more about Audiophile here. Authors and publishers interested in collaborating with Audiophile are encouraged to reach out to the team at [email protected]