Audiobook Acceleration – Let’s Discuss! (And a Poll!)

Posted July 12, 2016 by Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction in Let's Discuss / 55 Comments


I’ve been listening to audiobooks a lot lately. They’re great for long drives (or even short ones – I listen even if I’m only in the car for five minutes!) and doing random chores around the house. (Who knew folding laundry could be so exciting?) Between SYNC‘s free summer audiobook program, the library, and Audiobook Boom (a reviewing site for audiobooks), I’ve been listening more than ever before!

Of course, listening to an audiobook isn’t nearly as quick as just reading a book, but since I’m listening during times that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to read, I don’t mind that at all. But I’ve noticed that audiobook narrators read REALLY slowly. Like, ridiculously slowly. If I listened to most audiobooks at “normal” speed, it would be nearly painful – or I’d manage to fall asleep (hopefully not at the wheel!). I often wonder if the audiobook narrators have a hard time talking so incredibly slowly for such a long time.

It got me thinking, does anyone actually listen to audiobooks at 1x speed? I pretty much always listen at 1.5x speed. If the narrator has an accent that makes the book a little harder to understand, I sometimes dial that down to 1.25x. I occasionally even speed it up to 2x if I’m feeling impatient or the narrator is exceptionally slow. I pretty much never listen at 1x speed. (And there’s usually an option for .75x speed too! I think that speed would make me cry!)

So, I was curious what speed other people listen to audiobooks at. Seemed like a poll was in order!


55 responses to “Audiobook Acceleration – Let’s Discuss! (And a Poll!)

  1. OK love this. I agree it is normally painfully slow at the normal speed. I listen normally on 1.5x. If there is a eavy accent maybe 1.25. If I am listening for a while and get used to it though I can get up to 2x. Also thanks for letting me know about Audiobook Boom which is new to me!

    Grace @ Rebel Mommy Book Blog recently posted: Ten Facts About Me
  2. I usually listen at 1.25 or 1.3 (I have a sliding scale and can hit all those little, in-between numbers). 1x is soooooooo slow. But sometimes 1.5x seems TOO fast to feel natural to me.

  3. What a great discussion! My friends actually think I’m insane, because I’ve been known to listen to 2.35x speed on Audible audiobooks! I just can’t stand slow narrators. Plus, if I hate a narrator, speeding up the narration usually helps me move the story along.

    • The gym is a great place to listen! I watch TV while I’m on the elliptical, but I listen to audiobooks when I run, and it makes the time go by much faster. I also love listening while driving, but I’ll admit that if I’m not super interested in the book and I’m listening in too small of chunks I start to drift off and miss some of the story.

  4. Let me explain to you how it works when I try to multi-task: Just now, I was listening to music while reading your post. And I thought it was a post about *NSync. I was like “what even, Nicole? I didn’t even like them in the 90s when I was supposed to!” And then I realized that was stupid, and you were not writing a post about them, so I paused the music. And read the post. My point is, when I have tried to read an audiobook… zero words sunk into my brain. I retain NOTHING. Can’t do it! Though I think I WOULD have a better shot with adjusted speed, I agree the slowness is borinG!

    Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight recently posted: Me, in a Gif
    • Darn! I guess I won’t publish that other post I wrote all about NSync then. I was sure it was going to be a big hit!
      (I have to confess I was a New Kids on the Block fan when I was a kid, but that was before your time, you youngun’ – and don’t you love that you get to be a youngun’ around me?)

  5. I want to speed up the audiobooks…but omg they sound super awful and tinny to me when I do?!? I’m not sure if it’s the quality of my iPod or …or I don’t even know. XD But it drives me CRAZY HOW INSANELY SLOW THEY READ OMG WHY. I don’t know if you’ve tried Reign of Shadows, but I tried the audio and the narrator was so excruciatingly slow I actually wanted to eat a brick wall. #paaaaain
    But anyway. xD I love audios! I love how I can squeeze in more reading time with them. :’) It’s my dream to get an audible subscription basically hahha.

    • I think the first time I tried to listen at 1.5x I thought it sounded chipmunky, so I slowed it down to 1.25x and decided that was tolerable. But it wasn’t long before I realized that 1.5x didn’t sound that much different to me than 1.25x, and I got used to that too. 2x is just plain too fast, but I sometimes resort to it for a book that I would DNF otherwise. (Because, like you, I can’t DNF).

  6. I just actually found the benefits of increasing the narration speed about a couple of books ago. Isn’t that sad? Lol. But yeah, great discovery! I’ve been clocking some good miles on my listens. 🙂

  7. I’m not sure what the speed is. But I do listen to Overdrive audiobooks on my kindle. I just finished listening to Never Go Back by Lee Child.

    • I’m guessing that it’s 1x if you don’t know the speed. 1x would be the default. If you ever want to try it out a little faster, touch the little clock icon (I believe that’s how it looks in Overdrive). That will give you other speed options.

  8. I always listen to them faster! I cannot stand how slow they go sometimes! Great topic! I ask myself all the time if I’m the only one who does this!

  9. Sam

    I haven’t listened to many audiobooks. I didn’t know you could change the speed! I’ll definitely look for that next time I decide to listen to one (no clue when that will be though, since I have a newborn…Wah! I miss reading and blogging!).

    • Okay, first of all, congratulations on the birth of your little one – I didn’t know the big day had come! Hope you’re getting some actual sleep over there.

      Audiobooks are actually PERFECT for life with babies because you can listen while you’re taking care of them. Changing diapers and midnight feedings are much more pleasant while listening to a book. And you don’t even really have to wear headphones because you’re not worried about baby hearing something that’s not appropriate for her! I’d recommend heading over to SYNC (which is linked in my post) and downloading the free audiobooks for this month and try it out!

  10. I don’t listen to many audiobooks, but I do use text-to-speech on my kindle. I listen at 2x speed. I think when you speed it up it doesn’t matter what the voice sounds like since it is all garbled and the voice doesn’t matter.
    The problem is that the brain can process like 500-800 words a minute, but we can only speak like 300 words a minute. That means my mind wanders and I forget to listen.

    • I remember reading about how you listen to text to speech on your blog, actually. It’s so interesting – I feel like the robotic voice would bother me, but I’ve never tried it, so I guess I can’t say that for sure. I’ll have to try it out sometime!

  11. I forgot you could change the speeds. I think I upped it for Beautiful Creatures because it was so painfully slow, but I haven’t for any of the other books I’ve listened to. Perhaps I should – I could finish them faster!

  12. I think it depends on the narrator. I have never changed the speed of an audiobook, but there are some narrators that just go too slow! But I can’t imagine messing with the speed. I just listen. Now, if I can’t stand the narrator’s voice, or if it is too much description in the story and not enough just story, then I can’t always keep my mind on the story, and I’ll give up on it usually. This is a fun post. I listen in my car, and also at the gym on the treadmill. Sometimes it helps me want to go to the gym when I know that means I’ll get to listen to my book!

    Lisa Mandina (Lisa Loves Literature) recently posted: Swoon Thursday #2 - Play (Stage Dive #2) by Kylie Scott
  13. I feel like everyone is so into audiobooks lately, I was afraid I’d be all alone in the poll as the only one voting that I don’t listen to them lol. I have tried them twice though, and I agree, the narrators do seem to read really slow. I don’t remember if I actually sped them up, but I can’t say I blame you.

  14. The main reason I don’t listen to audiobooks is because I can’t see spending 10 hours of my life listening to a book I could read in two. The only exception to this is when I can’t read, such as in the car. But I’m also really sensitive to “Chipmunk Voice,” (my children are NOT ALLOWED to bring anything Alvin-related into the house), so mostly I just read with my eyes.

    Wendy recently posted: Make Me Read Update #1
    • Yes, I pretty much ONLY listen to audiobooks at times that I couldn’t be reading an actual book – mostly in the car, but also sometimes when I’m doing errands around the house. (Folding laundry is a big one that I normally hate, but audiobooks make it much better!)

  15. I need to change my poll answer! I was impatient, as usual, and picked 1.25 only because that’s the speed I listen to BookTube videos at, and I was going to comment to say so, but then I spotted “I don’t listen to audiobooks” as an answer. And that’s my one. But I do watch YouTube at 1.25 usually. I need to squeeze more in! R xx

  16. Gay

    I never thought I could listen to audio books because I thought I would lose track of the story, but thanks to you Nicole, I decided to give it a try. Once you told me I could speed it up to 1.5 I enjoy them even more. Since I do a good amount of driving in a week, I can get through a book fairly quickly. I hardly ever listen to the radio any more. I have to admit once in awhile a voice will sound a little like a chipmunk but I can usually get used to it rather quickly. I now love listening to audio books! I can get more books in that way & there are some books I think I would not actually enjoy reading that much. There have been a few that I just could not tolerate though & had to just delete them.

  17. I used to listen without them accelerated. Then I hit this one book in particular (I don’t even remember which one) that bugged me so much that I just wanted to get it over with. It was some frilly light-read that didn’t take a lot of brain-power to pay attention to. Ever since, I haven’t been able to stand the slower pace, so I’ve just kept it at X1.25 🙂

    Michelle @ FaerieFits recently posted: Q&A With Kaleena [Beautiful People]
  18. I don’t listen to audiobooks often. When I do, I either think the narrator is too slow or get distracted from the audiobook by something else I’m doing. The greatest success I’ve had with audiobooks is listening to them while following along in the physical book.

    I had no idea that you could speed up audiobooks. Would you, by any chance, know how to speed it up on a Kindle Fire? That would make my life simpler if I could maintain the attention span to listen to it while I do something else. Great post!

    • Sorry I missed this comment earlier! If you’re listening via Audible, there should be something in the bottom left corner that says Speed 1x. If you click on that, it should bring up a menu for other speed options. That’s how it works on my phone, and I assume that it will be similar on the Kindle Fire. Other apps do it slightly differently. For instance, if you’re using Overdrive, there’s a little clock-looking icon that you click on. Hopes this helps!!

  19. This is a pretty interesting topic! I don’t usually listen to audiobooks, but I sometimes listen to podcasts, specifically Night Vale, but every time I listen to them, I get SO bored. More often than not, I change the speed to 1.25x just so I don’t fall asleep!

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