Audio entertainment is not a new trend. It has been around since wireless telegraphs were used to transmit radio waves in the late 1800s.
But in the past few decades, it has become more popular than ever, with an audience of billions. This is primarily due to the ease and convenience smartphones and laptops provide for listening to different forms of audio entertainment.
You only need an internet connection to stream anything you want to listen to.
Today, podcasts and audiobooks are some of the most popular forms of audio entertainment. You will find them in abundance and can easily access them via your smartphone or computer.
There is no longer any need to manage physical media such as cassette tapes and CDs to listen to long-form art, either.
In this article on podcasts vs audiobooks, we will walk you through the differences and respective pros and cons of the two popular mediums.
Let’s dive in!
Podcasts are relatively new compared to audiobooks—their roots only date back to the 1980s. Their popularity rose in late 2004 with the advent of high-speed internet and the iPod.
The very first podcasts were radio shows releasing episodes for consumption after they’ve aired live. Then podcast shows gradually branched out to countless genres such as thrillers, crime, comedy, history, science, politics, personal issues, celebrity gossip, and so on.
Podcasts are episodic series of audio content run by one or more hosts. They may come by in the form of quick news roundups, lengthy discussions, and a host of other formats—the sky’s the limit.
Podcasters typically release episodes regularly, around the topic the hosts are knowledgeable about. Many shows bring on guests every week who talk about their experiences, views, and expertise about the podcast’s niche.
Podcasts are conversational in nature, so laypeople can easily understand the topics discussed. And with millions of podcasts to choose from, it’s nearly impossible to run out of shows to listen to, regardless of your interests.
Today, podcasts are more popular than audiobooks. This can be seen in the 2019 Infinite Dial Study by Edison Research and Triton Digital, which said that 32% of the US population listened to a podcast in 2019.
Only 20% of people in the US listened to audiobooks in the same year, according to a 2019 study by Pew Research.
- Easier to listen to and digest due to their conversational nature
- Episodes are primarily in bite-size chunks, often an hour or less
- Extensive array of genres and topics
- Cover the latest industry trends and developments
- Enable multitasking
- Bonus podcast episodes or other extra content are often paywalled
- Most free podcasts contain ads
Where to Find Podcasts
Finding and listening to podcasts is easy if you have internet access. All you need to do is find a podcast app or platform online that suits your listening needs and preferences.
You can then listen to thousands of podcasts from around the world. Some of the apps that cater to this space include:
Podcasts are not only available on different mobile apps but also on web browsers such as Chrome, Microsoft Edge, or Safari. You can listen to them from a desktop computer or laptop or the web browser on your smartphone.
Podcasts are often free. But there are also some premium podcast shows you have to subscribe to for a fee to listen to. Some free podcasts offer additional paid content, such as bonus episodes or behind-the-scenes content.
How to Publish Podcasts
Publishing a podcast online is easy; all you need are these four basic steps:
First, record a podcast episode. Make sure that the recording is of high quality—augmented with useful show notes—to ensure maximum impact upon publishing. Then, edit and save it.
Export the audio file as an mp3 and add metatags. Metatags include the artist name, podcast name, cover image, genre, episode title, episode description, and the year you created the episode.
Next is finding a podcast hosting service. There are many excellent services to choose from, such as Anchor, Podbean, Buzzsprout (see also our comparison of Buzzsprout and Captivate), and the like. Choose whichever one suits your podcasting needs.
Once you’ve chosen your podcast host, upload your podcast episode on the platform.
The most important part—the one that gets you the audience you want—is to list your podcast in all the top directories. Apple Podcasts and Spotify (see also ‘How Many Users Does Spotify Have Vs. Apple Music?‘) are the most popular listening platforms in the world, so make sure to host your podcast there.
If you choose a good podcast host, you will get easy access to integration with all the major podcast directories. You can easily list your podcast from your hosting service’s dashboard, with no need for other steps.
Nonetheless, you will need an mp3 file of your podcast recording and an RSS feed URL that your hosting service will generate for you.
Once you have your podcast’s RSS feed URL, create an account on the podcast directory, enter your RSS feed, preview, and submit.
After the directory approves your RSS feed and you verify that you are the podcast owner, you can publish your podcasts and view them whenever you wish.
Once you list your podcast, the directory automatically pulls all future episodes. So you don’t have to resubmit the RSS feed every time you publish.
Note that the process for podcast publishing is different across podcast directories. Closely consider the rules and regulations of each directory to better understand what you will need to do.
Audiobooks are like the big brother of podcasts. They came first and have been around since people listened to them on vinyl records, cassette tapes, and compact discs (CDs).
They first emerged in 1932 when The American Foundation for the Blind established a recording studio that produced recordings of books on vinyl records. The market for audiobooks grew when cassette tapes emerged in the 1960s and CDs in the 1980s.
In 1995, Audible revolutionized the industry by allowing people to download audiobooks on their computers. Today, there are many platforms specifically created to host and distribute audiobooks.
Audiobooks are professional recordings of existing texts that are usually available in another non-audio format. So audiobooks simply provide a different—often easier— way to consume the existing content.
They are vastly different from podcasts as they are released as a single, stand-alone product and are not episodic.
In essence, audiobooks are books that are read aloud and recorded by a narrator. A standard audiobook often spans 7 to 8 hours, usually longer—all the content is contained, distributed, and downloaded as one large file.
As they are simply audio formats of published books, audiobooks cover fiction and non-fiction, and listeners can enjoy many different genres for listening.
- Usually contain more detailed information about a certain topic
- Often narrated by the author, so they provide a more authentic listening experience
- Vast range of genres to choose from
- Listeners can multitask while listening
- Quite costly
- Require the reader’s concentration while listening
- Much longer than podcasts and take much more time to finish
Where to Find Audiobooks
You can easily access and listen to audiobooks on your smartphone, tablet, smartwatch, desktop computer, or laptop. Android and iOS devices allow users to access almost every audiobook app and platform available on the market.
Some of the leading audiobook services include:
However, most audiobooks must be paid for. This is because recording an entire book is expensive, and all content is copyrighted. Publishers typically charge larger sums for audiobooks compared to digital or physical copies of the book.
Fortunately for listeners, most audiobook subscriptions offer free trials for limited periods. This means you can listen to audiobooks for free for a certain period, so you can decide if the medium is for you.
How to Publish Audiobooks
If you wish to publish an audiobook, follow these simple steps:
First, you need to produce an audiobook. You can record it yourself or hire specialists for narration, editing, engineering, and packaging the audio files into a finished product.
You can also hire a company to manage the process from start to finish.
Review the quality of your audio files and edit them as needed. You may need to remove background noises, adjust the pacing, and ensure that the audio is free of audio pops, clicks, volume shifts, and fuzz.
The recording edits must be inaudible and seamless so that the audio sounds polished, professional, and clear.
Next, choose a platform or distributor for publishing your audiobook. Distributors are usually a better option as they will publish your audiobook across different retail platforms. They will also introduce your audiobook to libraries and subscription services.
Some of the top distributors include:
- Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX)
- Findaway Voices
- Lantern Audio
- Kobo Writing Life
- Publish Drive
- Author’s Republic
Before publishing your audiobook, ensure that your files are in the correct format. Distribution platforms have different requirements for audiobook submissions, and it’s best to know what they are so that you do not encounter problems later.
Once you conform to your distribution platform’s format requirements, verify the distribution contract’s terms and conditions. Double-check the royalties you are entitled to, the territories in which your audiobook will be available, and other vital details.
Once you are satisfied with the deal, upload your audiobook to the distribution platform. The distributor will then review and approve your audiobook and send it to retailers.
Podcasts vs Audiobooks: Do I Have to Choose One Over Another?
Choosing between podcasts vs audiobooks can be tough as they offer different levels of convenience and information.
Podcasts are best for those who prefer casual listening while doing their chores, working out, running errands, and other activities. Most podcasts come in small chunks of short episodes that are easy to digest because they have a light conversational style.
They are very easy to understand, and you do not need to maintain 100% focus all the time while listening to them.
Podcasts also cover a wide range of genres and topics. Moreover, they are usually free and easily accessible, so you can listen to them anytime and anywhere you want, with no need to worry about your budget.
In contrast, audiobooks can help you read books much more quickly and easily, especially if you prefer audio formats.
They also provide an authentic listening experience when narrated by the author or by talented voice artists who tell stories in a compelling and creative way.
Like with podcasts, you can choose from many different genres. You can also easily multitask while listening to audiobooks and access them on various apps and devices at your convenience.
However, audiobooks come with a cost, so you must set aside a small budget to listen to them regularly.
Meanwhile, if you love both these forms of audio entertainment, you don’t have to choose between them! You can listen to both of them whenever you want and enjoy the best of both worlds.
Conclusion – Which Is Better Podcasts Or Audiobooks
We hope our guide on podcasts vs audiobooks helped expand your understanding of each format and their respective pros and cons.
You can listen to both of them and tailor your audio entertainment based on your needs and preferences at any given time. Happy listening!