An Open Letter to Authors Who Don’t Think Audiobooks are “Real” Reading

An Open Letter to Authors Who Don’t Think Audiobooks are “Real” Reading

Dear Authors Who Don't Think Audiobooks Are "Real" Reading, 

Congrats, you're the latest thing to make me put on my ranty panties. 

Where do I even begin? Just when I thought the bookternet had beaten this dead horse, you try to resurrect it again. 

The other day while on Instagram I saw an author I follow is doing a summer reading challenge. Great! Who doesn't love summer reading? I was all on board until I came to this note in the caption:
"A lot have asked about audiobooks. Audiobooks books do not count towards the challenge because my goal was to encourage reading." 

I'd hate to think an author, who should be someone who loves books and encourages reading more than anyone, would have such a narrow view of what reading is.

I doubt the author who posted this would tell someone with dyslexia or someone who was visually impaired or someone whose hands were physically unable to hold print books that all the audiobooks they'd listened to over the years didn't count and they were actually illiterate. Surely no one would be that ignorantly ableist. 

Aside from being offensive to disabled people, being anti-audiobook also hurts people who are using audiobooks to learn a new language. I dare anyone to learn how to speak a language proficiently solely by reading a print book. 

But the fact is that no one needs an excuse to read audiobooks. Fans of books shouldn't have to prove anything to you. If readers want to read via audiobook, you have no right to judge them, especially when it's lining your pocketbooks and not hurting anyone.

There are a million reasons to love audiobooks, all of them valid, and none of which readers should ever have to justify to you, other authors, or anyone else. 

Aside from being patently ableist, being anti-audiobook just doesn't hold up to logic. The oral tradition of storytelling far outdates the written tradition. Similarly, oral communication came before written communication. Therefore, I seriously doubt you would tell someone, "well, you said you called and talked to your sister the other day, but it doesn't count since you didn't text or send snail mail." That would be ridiculous. 

I normally see the whole "is listening to audiobooks really reading?" and "do audiobooks count?" question coming from readers. I've found that, on the whole, avid readers tend to be meticulous people who are concerned with following rules and doing things right. And, sure, authors are readers too (or should be), but you don't often see such nonsense coming from them. That's because most authors have enough sense to know they benefit from audiobooks. 

No need to take my word for it. Hear it from the Wall Street Journal instead: "In the first eight months of 2017, publishers’ revenue from audiobooks grew 20% from the same period a year earlier, while print books only rose 1.5% and e-books slipped 5.4%, according to the Association of American Publishers, which collects data reported by 1,200 publishers." 

Or hear it from the publishing industry trade publication The Bookseller who said audiobook sales have doubled in the past five years. 

You know what else the WSJ said? "The Audio Publishers Association estimates U.S. audiobook sales rose 18% to $2.1 billion in 2016." 

I'd find it hard to believe an author wouldn't want the royalties from the audio production of their book since they're an author and only peddle "real" books. But if you really, truly, deep in your bones don't believe audiobooks are really reading, I've got a solution for you, dear author... 

Don't allow your books to be made into audiobooks. Fight your publisher tooth and nail. Convince them and all the revenue they make from audiobooks is illegitimate and refuse to take part in fake book publishing. 

If that doesn't work and your publisher insists on creating audiobooks from your work, then refuse to receive royalties from the sales of those audiobooks. Instead, your publisher should donate the royalties to disability rights organizations since you're so comfortable invalidating disabled people's reading habits. Or just hand over your audiobook royalties back to the publisher so they can make even more audiobooks. You don't care as long as you don't have to be a part of fake reading, right? 

Go on, put your money where your mouth is. I dare you. 

When you've done that and have the receipts to prove it, come back and tell us all again how audiobooks isn't really reading. That is, if you can still afford to write. 


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