“In an age of speed, nothing could be more invigorating than going slow. In an age of distraction, nothing can feel more luxurious than paying attention. And in an age of constant movement, nothing is more urgent than sitting still.”
Pico Iyer, The Art of Stillness
The digital book has developed quite successfully in recent years, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the effects that streaming platforms have brought to the entertainment industry. However, discussing «digital books» also implies talking about more than just one format, such as e-books and audiobooks, which are currently competing for the preference of readers. Nonetheless, the battle could be decided by the audiobook in the coming years (particularly in the case of the novel) for the very same reason that tells the e-book apart from physical books: technology.
In a recent article published in The Atlantic magazine, Ian Bogost, writer, videogame designer, and professor at Washington University in St. Louis, says: «I may not be able to bear the idea of seeing books as computers after a long day of seeing computers as computers”. Something similar happens to others: after a day of working in front of an electronic screen (and 10 hours or more checking notifications on a cell phone), the desire to read on any device wanes, even though it could be leisure reading. You need to look away, take a break, take your time, and turn your eyes back to whatever you are reading.
As we all know, reading is not a mechanical act like checking an email or browsing through social media posts. Reading requires attention, concentration, reflection, and imagination. One of the most important forms of attention is listening. Given the overexposure to visual stimuli and the need to reconnect with ourselves, the audiobook stands out as a great option to reconnect to reading, precisely by concentrating our attention on only one of the senses.
“Maybe what we all need is to slow down and allow words to do what it is they’re best at: helping us make meaning of story, of narrative, of nuance. Words help us make meaning of life”.
In her article “It’s Time to Slow Down Your Audiobook Speed”, the writer and editor, Kelly Jensen mentions: “Maybe what we all need is to slow down and allow words to do what it is they’re best at: helping us make meaning of story, of narrative, of nuance. Words help us make meaning of life. In an era where we’re at breakneck speed, where the news bombards us with disturbing stories, where we’re rushing place to place in order to do more and be more, nothing could be more radical than stepping back and doing the opposite. Rebellion doesn’t need to be loud to be meaningful”.
Undoubtedly, a step towards such direction is to take the time to listen to a book that pleases us. Of course, reading in other formats is necessary and complementary to each other. We are talking about getting away from screens in order to enjoy reading. In an era of images, listening is another way of hearing ourselves in order to flow.
Finally, as we have mentioned in previous articles (see “Audiobooks: Hunting for Digital Readers”), the audiobook has been gaining ground in the publishing market, even in countries where reading levels are low. In addition, the increase in the catalogs of Audible, Planeta Audio, and Storytel, as well as the latter’s incursion into Spotify, set a trend in book consumption for the coming years. Tell us, are you willing to go with flow?
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