As technology advances, people are getting more inclined to digitalization. One of the most innovative technologies is the audiobook where a narrator reads out a book and users can listen to it.

According to 2021 Survey, more than 45 percent of American adults claim to have listened to audiobooks, a figure which can be projected to grow. People find audiobooks to be more convenient than traditional reading. In this article, we will discuss the distinctions between reading and listening speed.


Reading speed vs. listening speed

Well, it depends. Some are fast readers and some people found listening speed is slower than reading speed, probably because of people’s differences in tones, accents, and pace.

The average reader reads 200 to 400 words per minute (wpm), whereas the average speed of audiobook goes about 150-160 wpm when listening at the recorded speed. Based on the average speed, an audiobook is slower than reading.

Answers will vary based on how fast users read, how users able to focus on what they listen to, able to do while listening, and use of time is also noteworthy. In books, most of the time reading is faster, reader may skip text that seems of no value. Similarly, some people like to listen to audiobooks at increased speed that might lose comprehension.

An audiobook contains about 130 to 160 words per minute. It depends more on the audiobook narrator. When a person is narrating the story from a book to digital audiobooks, he/she will not speak fast but at an average speed so that each word is clear and well-pronounced.

Hence, listening to audiobooks are slower than reading a book.


Why do readers sometimes perceive that audiobook is faster than reading? 

The reason is that readers can listen to audiobooks more frequently than reading the book. For instance, they can listen to an audiobook even when doing other activities like driving, gardening, or even exercising!

Depending on narrators, users can listen to audiobooks with 3x speed as 1x is slow and basic speed. The listening speed of humans is normally faster than the speaking speed, and thus the recording speed of an audiobook, some listen to an audiobook at 1.5 to 2 times faster than the recorded speed. If reader listens to audiobook at the standard recorded speed, it will take almost double the time than reading silently for average readers.

If audiobook is too slow, consider speeding them up. Although all audiobook narrators narrate the stories at the same speed (150 to 160 wpm), it can seem to be slow at times. It depends on the type of story users are listening to. The pace of narration can be slow depending on the narrator who is narrating in the audiobook. However, there is a solution for users to speed up the entire audiobook.

Most audiobook apps come with an option or feature where users can select the desired speed. Users can download “speed-listening app/audio speed changer,” also the speed button on the screen when the audiobook is playing. Instantly, users can choose the speed according to their needs.

Comfortable speed for audiobooks is currently around 2x but readers can listen to books 5x faster than reading and have available time when:

  • Driving
  • Eating
  • Exercising
  • Gardening
  • Doing housework
  • Working in the shop



“Audiobooks are faster because users can listen while doing other tasks thru dedicated reading time.”

A person uses an audiobook because of other conveniences offered and not because of the speed. So, on average, are likely to finish a book faster if listening, and certainly can get through more books.

Have a blissful speed-listening!