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Audiobooks: Listening to Learn

Audiobooks: Listening to Learn

In Management Challenges for the 21st Century, the great Peter Drucker, revered as the father of modern management, said that “there are readers and there are listeners.” In other words, some individuals process information more successfully by reading, while others respond best by listening.

Drucker’s maxim rings true today as the popularity of audiobooks continues to skyrocket with each passing year. A September 2018 report from The Association of American Publishers confirms a 36.4% revenue growth in audiobooks so far this year, with total net revenue of $253.1 million.  These are some pretty impressive numbers reinforcing the theory that as new technologies such as listening apps have emerged, the concept of reading and learning on-the-go has risen exponentially.

What makes audiobooks so approachable and intriguing?

Audiobooks provide an opportunity to learn while studying, commuting, exercising, making dinner or just relaxing. They facilitate “microlearning” by allowing us to ingest information in small, yet meaningful spurts. While it might seem daunting or self-indulgent to sit down and just read in today’s hectic world, since you listen to an audiobook—an activity that is less time consuming than reading and is accessed on a myriad of devices, often throughout the course of a person’s typical day—it is simply a more realistic and attainable goal.

Perhaps it helps too that we listen which in itself promotes learning, engagement, and information retention. If you’re like most people, hearing a story or concept narrated by someone using inflection in his or her voice is far more impactful than reading while hearing your voice. For centuries, humans have enjoyed storytelling, and audiobooks elicit that sense of comfort and familiarity. A recent article which discussed this year’s maiden Audiobook Conference at Frankfurt Book Fair in Germany posits that “the rise of audiobooks is taking us back to where it all began, before printed text, when we gathered around a fire, and a village elder or a parent said ‘once upon a time…’” In short, since we don’t all have the advantage of listening and learning around a crackling, cozy fire, audiobooks in a corporate environment allow employees, managers, and leaders to quickly and easily expand their knowledge and expertise and apply what they’ve learned to their current roles.

Who is listening and what are they listening to?

Audiobooks offer time-starved professionals an on-demand, convenient, and portable option from which to consume information, learn new skills or develop an existing one.  The following three titles are among Skillsoft’s most popular audiobooks and interestingly all deal with the best ways to maximize or manage your time.


What does the popularity of audiobooks mean for L&D?

Pew Research indicates that 1 in 5 Americans now listens to audiobooks, and the Audiobook Publishers Association (APA) suggests that 48% of all audiobook listeners are under the age of 35. Millennials are the largest generation in the US labor force; therefore, it makes sense to incorporate this method of learning into your organization’s learning programs. Audiobooks offer millennials—and other generations as well—the opportunity to learn in easily-digestible 10- to 20-minute chunks, and since an audiobook is but a small file on your smartphone listeners have the freedom to access them from virtually anywhere. In fact, most millennials listened to an average of 15 audiobooks throughout the past year.

Audiobooks are one of the fastest-growing modalities on Percipio, Skillsoft’s award-winning learning experience platform, which includes over 1,500 audiobooks.  We release new audiobooks each week, so the next time you’re looking to polish an existing skill or perhaps learn a new one, put in your earbuds and discover what listening can teach you!

Interested in hearing one of these audiobooks or any one of the other 1,500 audiobooks we offer? Start a trial of Percipio today and experience for yourself the learning power of the spoken word.


Amy Cantin is Senior Managing Editor for Skillsoft Books.


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