In the midst of the incessant barrage of notifications, mobile alerts, and the relentless onslaught of social media, time has become a scarce commodity. The statistics are staggering: in the worst-case scenario, a user might glance at their mobile screen up to a hundred times a day. This scenario presents a catastrophic challenge for fostering reading habits, especially among the youth. Traditional reading demands undivided attention to not miss a single line. However, what if the narrative unfolds to the reader’s ears instead?

The phenomenon of audiobooks has experienced a marked surge in popularity over the last decade, completely revolutionizing the way literature is consumed. No longer is it necessary to cling to a physical or electronic book; instead, stories come to life through the voices of narrators.

Advantages of Audiobooks

A narrated book offers evident advantages, especially considering the time constraints faced by modern society. They allow for multitasking, such as driving, exercising, or cooking while enjoying a novel. But does this mean the experience in our brains is equivalent?

A 2016 study analyzed reading comprehension and information retention between two groups: one reading traditional books and the other listening to audiobooks. After reading, a questionnaire was administered to measure their comprehension. The results revealed no significant differences. While reading allows occasional backward glances to review what’s been read, audiobooks offer the advantage of conveying emotional nuances and enabling comprehension through intonation, especially when the author narrates.

Growing Popularity of Audiobooks

The concept of a narrated book might still seem unusual to some, but it has become a widespread phenomenon. According to fieldwork conducted by Audible Compass in 2022, 70% of Spaniards regularly consume entertainment via audio, marking an 18% increase from the previous year. We may not have time to read, but we do have time to listen. Thus, the art of literature finds new hope, even if in another format, given that different experiences of books and audiobooks yield similar comprehension results.

Preferred Genres and Listening Habits

What kinds of works do people prefer to enjoy through their ears? According to Audible sources, Spaniards favor mystery and thriller titles (49%) when listening to audiobooks, followed by literature and fiction (46%), science fiction and fantasy (44%), history (40%), and health and wellness (34%).

When and where do people listen to audiobooks most frequently? In Spain, the majority prefer to do so at home (61%), but it’s notable that 50% choose to enhance their car journeys with a narrated story. Here, audiobooks have an advantage over traditional books as they allow multitasking. While the level of attention may be lower, it’s compensated by intonation and a deeper emotional resonance than in written words.

Major Audiobook Services

There’s a significant distinction to be made regarding audiobooks: users can either purchase them individually or subscribe to a monthly flat fee for unlimited access to a vast library. This model resembles that of the movie industry, where individual purchases are akin to buying a movie (digitally or physically), while subscription services are like a Netflix for books.

  • Audible: A pioneer in the audio entertainment segment, Audible was acquired by Amazon in 2008. Similar to streaming music services, platforms don’t have notable content differences; there aren’t major literary hits exclusively available on one platform. The competition lies in the exclusive content created by each platform. Audible boasts a wide catalog of authors who offer their titles exclusively on the platform. With over 90,000 titles in Spanish under the Amazon umbrella, Audible requires a monthly payment of 9.99 euros. However, there’s a sufficiently long free trial period to determine whether the service is suitable.
  • Storytel: Another major platform for audiobooks in Spanish, Storytel offers over 100,000 audio books in the language. Like Audible, it features exclusive content from authors who only publish on their platform. Storytel arrived later to the market and competes against the well-established Audible. Perhaps due to this, its subscription price is slightly lower at 8.99 euros per month for an equivalent catalog. Beyond price, other factors like app usability and catalog accessibility influence user decisions. Storytel faces a disadvantage due to Audible’s integration into Amazon’s Echo ecosystem, allowing users to request audiobook playback with voice commands.
  • Podimo: The latest contender to enter the market, Podimo has made a significant push in Spain to capitalize on the growing trend of audiobook consumption. Audiobooks have profoundly transformed the literary landscape, providing a convenient and highly accessible alternative for a wide audience. Despite their drawbacks, the benefits they bring to the reading experience are undeniable. These audiobooks attest that, regardless of format, stories remain a fundamental component of the human experience. Additionally, other audio platforms like iVoox, Spotify, or Google Podcasts also offer audiobooks, including special formats like “Un libro, una hora” by SER.


In conclusion, the rise of audiobooks has redefined how literature is consumed in the digital age. With the ever-increasing demands on our time and attention, audiobooks offer a convenient solution for incorporating storytelling into our daily lives. Whether it’s during commutes, household chores, or leisure activities, audiobooks provide a means to engage with literature without the need for dedicated reading time.

Furthermore, the accessibility and versatility of audiobook platforms have democratized access to literature, allowing users to explore a vast array of titles and genres at their convenience. Whether through individual purchases or subscription services, audiobook platforms cater to a diverse audience with varying reading preferences and habits.

While audiobooks may not replicate the exact experience of reading a physical book, they offer unique advantages such as multitasking capability, emotional engagement through narration, and accessibility for individuals with visual impairments or reading difficulties.

As technology continues to evolve, it’s likely that audiobooks will remain a prominent feature of the literary landscape, complementing traditional reading formats and expanding the reach of literature to new audiences worldwide. Whether through the immersive experience of a narrated story or the tactile pleasure of turning pages, the love of storytelling endures, transcending the boundaries of time and technology.