I love reading. Always have. And I love the reading community. We readers are usually a fun, empathetic, and supportive bunch, and we always have a book recommendation (or twenty) if you’re interested. Except, lately, I’ve become more involved with social media reading groups and . . . there’s been a few alarming things that I’m really not okay with.
Not Okay Thing #1: Saying That Audiobooks Aren’t Really Reading.
Everyday, sometimes even multiple times daily, I see some sort of comment or post about whether or not audiobooks should be considered reading. They often look something like this:
- A super sincere reader asking: “Are audiobooks considered reading?”
- A snobby reading saying: “Ugh, my friend keeps saying she’s a book lover, but she only listens to audiobooks.”
- A definition purist saying, “READING. If you’re listening to audiobooks you’re LISTENING not READING. Not my rule, just the literal definition.”
At first I was baffled by these posts, then I was annoyed, and now I’m just irritated. Audiobooks do count as reading. You can count them in your yearly reading goal totals. You can tell people you’re a book dragon even if you listen to audiobooks, and you can tell anyone who doesn’t agree to follow the ring into Mount Doom.
Here’s why I find the whole audiobooks aren’t really reading comments so frustrating: it makes reading exclusive, and I want reading to be as inclusive as possible. Audiobooks allow many kinds of readers to enjoy books with us that they either wouldn’t be able to read or wouldn’t have time to read, or wouldn’t want to read, without this format.
Are you still experiencing the same story? Yup. Can you still talk about the story with other readers who “read” and not “listened” to the book? Yup. In fact, when I listen to an audiobook instead of reading, I’m actually more likely to remember the smaller details because I’m very prone to skim reading or flat out skipping long sections of descriptive text when I’m reading a physical copy.
Do people who are visually impaired or losing their eyesight deserve to be kicked out of the reading community for reading audiobooks? Definitely not.
What about parents who love reading but can’t fit it in unless they listen to an audiobook while doing their day-to-day responsibilities. Also, no.
What about hard workers who have long drives to and from work today sucking up their time? Should we exclude them too? Nah.
What about the person who just likes audiobooks and doesn’t need any excuses? They’re good with me too.
These people all deserve the title of book dragon, even if they don’t ever read a physical book again.
Not Okay Thing #2: Saying that Paperback/Hardback Books are the Only Real Books.
Look, ebooks have been around for a while now and the world of print books didn’t implode. Ebooks aren’t evil. They aren’t plotting to burn all your print books while you sleep. They can actually be downright useful in many applications. Such as:
- Nursing my baby. I tried to read a print book while doing this once, and it ended up kicked out of my hands about 15 times and I had to keep re-finding my place. Not to mention the spot of spit up that I’ll never get out of the pages. My Kindle is a lot more durable and I don’t have to re-find my place each time I drop it.
- Traveling. Ebooks all the way. No more bringing a dozen heavy books because I’m not sure which one I’ll be in the mood for. I can bring my entire ebook library and have hundreds of books to choose from.
- At night. My husband thanks you, backlight, for replacing the obnoxious lamp.
- To explore new authors. I’m not always willing to dish out $10 to $20 bucks on a book from an author I don’t know, but I’m definitely willing to give their free to $4.99 ebook a shot. If I love them, then I think about buying more.
- Waiting anywhere. I feel like I’m always waiting, at the doctor’s office, at the grocery store, at kid pick up, in the fast food line, etc. Being able to quickly open up my ereader in all these short instances really adds up.
I could go on, but you get the point. Ebooks are the perfect complement to our print books. They are not a replacement, but an extension of reading that you can take everywhere and that can be enjoyed by everyone. By providing cheaper and even free books to everyone who has a phone to read on, and by allowing the visually impaired to adjust text sizes to what they’re comfortable reading, ebooks are also helping to make reading more accessible for all.
Not to mention, new authors who may not be able to sell a lot of print books yet rely on ebooks to support their dream of being an author. So say it with me: ebooks are good, not evil. Next time someone mentions reading on their Kindle or an ebook, even if you never, ever, ever want to read an ebook yourself, try to refrain from telling them that you “need real books to read” or that you “only like hardback books.” It’s getting old. You’re not being clever, or helpful. Trust me. I work with ebooks, so I see about a hundred of these comments a day and I’m still happily reading my ebooks, along with my print books and audiobooks.
Let readers be readers. Let’s work on making reading the most inclusive, supportive, empathetic community in the world and stop stressing so much about how or what format the book dragon next to you is reading.
Do you have any pet peeves about the reading community? Let us know in the comments below!