/ Travel & Leisure

Do you prefer to listen to a good book?


We’re buying fewer books as a nation, yet according to new stats audiobook sales have doubled in the past five years. So what’s driving this – and do you prefer to read or listen to a good story?

I’m currently making my way through a chunky 700-page paperback (it’s Heartstone by C.J. Sansom, in case you’re interested, and I highly recommend it too).

Although I cart around my hefty paperback on train journeys to and from work, I also keep a bank of backups to listen to on my phone in case I forget it, have no space for it in my bag or simply fancy a change.


Despite owning a tablet, I’m one of those people who never fully adopted the ebook. I have, however, developed a habit of listening to a good audiobook.

There’s something quite nice about being read to, especially by a great voice. I couldn’t, for instance, pass up the opportunity to listen to Bruce Springsteen reading his Born to Run autobiography last year, or Steve Coogan as Alan Partridge reciting I, Partridge: we need to talk about Alan.

According to survey data released by Nielsen UK Books and Consumers, audiobook purchases now account for 5% of book spending overall, with sales up 12% on last year.

Booming audiobook sales have, in part, been attributed to changing habits in the way we want to consume books – suggesting we’ve become more accustomed to other long-form digital audio formats like podcasts.

Book preferences

With only commuting hours reserved for reading my books, it can take a while to get through one unless I’m on holiday.

I prefer to read a book, providing I have the time to do so, but audiobooks allow me to consume more books because I can listen to them while doing other tasks. But there are also, of course, a great many people whose abilities mean that they rely on audiobooks for a good ‘read’ – for those people, the continued growth and increasing availability of audiobooks can only be a good thing.

So what about you? Do you prefer books, or like me do you struggle to find the time to read them? Do you listen to audiobooks or podcasts? If so, would you listen to a Which? podcast – tell us in the poll below.

Would you tune in to a Which? podcast?

Maybe (38%, 345 Votes)

No (34%, 303 Votes)

Yes (28%, 251 Votes)

Total Voters: 899

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This summer we’re going on a week’s holiday in a bothy where there will be no electricity (or running water or inside toilet – yes, deliberately), so paperbacks it will have to be!

Make sure you read them first…

This comment was removed at the request of the user

My sense of humour is also usually dry….

I have two A4 size e-readers. The older one [M92} has a massive battery, good for one months reading, and also does audio rather well. So audio books on an ereader …….. handy.


Wondered what the M92 ebook was about so googled “m92″ … and got results … about guns 🙁

I see there’s loads of 6” e-readers but not many (affordable) significantly bigger ones.
Prices asked seem to be close to similar sized iPads and the like.
I’ll just have to continue to squint at my Kindle then 🙂