There is a quote, which is often attributed to Mark Twain, that goes something like this:
A person who doesn’t read has no advantage over one who can’t.
The truth is that most of us don’t read very much at all. And for those that do, a lot of that reading time is spent with newspapers, magazines or miscellaneous work-related papers and articles.
Most people don’t read books. Most business people don’t read enough books. Yet, if you ask them, they will admit that they should read more. Common reasons that business people will give are not having enough time, not knowing what books to read and not finding books that interest them.
I have noticed when talking to business people who do want to read more, who do want to find interesting books and who would like to learn more, that they have something of a blind spot to an option that can provide them with a lot of the benefits but with less of the hassle – audiobooks!
Virtually everyone I know in business has a CD player in their car. Very few use that CD player to listen to audiobooks. Most of us now have some form of digital audio player but only a few of us use them to listen to books. Are audiobooks one of life’s biggest hidden secrets?
I don’t have time! Really?
With busy lifestyles, it’s difficult to make time to sit down and read. It’s not impossible but it’s tough. However, there are many opportunities for us to listen to audiobooks every single day: while commuting, while walking/jogging and while doing household chores.
The technology is there. Pop a CD in the player. Turn on the iPod. Plug in the earphones.
If you want to learn how much time you have available, try listening to a 5-hour audiobook. Your initial reaction will be ‘Wow, five hours – that’ll take me a couple of weeks to get through’. Trust me, if you plug into the book every time you have a chance to listen, you will be shocked at how quickly you will get through it. We consistently underestimate how much time we spend, say, commuting. Some people I know would get through that book in a single day. But right now, they believe they don’t have time.
Why listening can sometimes trump reading.
More and more authors are now also narrating their own audiobooks. This can be good news for us, as in the case of authors like Seth Godin and Gary Vaynerchuk. Their passion for the material and the particular emphasis that they give to particular words and points gives us extra value over the plain written word. I even find myself listening to books before reading them (books that I need to research quite deeply for purposes of work). And once you’ve heard the author’s unique interpretation of the words, you just can’t read the book any other way.
Sounds great. How do I start listening?
Most mainstream books now have an audio equivalent. There are many of ways of sourcing these but I would recommend two: Audible and iTunes. Audible was one of the first audiobook retaliers online and has become the #1 source. I personally use the US-based Audible.com. It has the greatest selection to choose from. But there is also a UK site – Audible.co.uk, which may well suit you better. You can purchase books individually or sign up to a plan which gives you a certain number of book credits per month. Apple’s iTunes is another easy way to access and download audiobooks. You may well have some iTunes credit waiting to be spent – check out the Audiobook category, you will be surprised at how many books are now available.
And if you’re still holding back on making the jump into iPods and mp3 players, then there are still a decent number of audiobooks available in CD format. Some of your bricks-and-mortar bookshops will have a CD section. Better yet, have a look at what’s available in your local library. You will see if there is a CD format available when you look at a book on Amazon.
Go for it. Let me know how you get on. If you’re already an audiobook listener, let me know which ones you would recommend to others.