What is multi-format reading? you might ask. Well, it’s the most accurate term I could think of to describe the kind of reading I do every once in a while: switching among various formats while reading one particular book title. For example, right now I’m reading All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. I started with the audiobook but once in a while I switch and read the paperback.
How Multi-Format Reading Works
As I noted in my example, I would start with one format but then switch to another format. When I switch to a different format, I continue right there where I left off in the other format. To make things easier, I usually only switch between chapters. The exception to this rule is when I have access to Whispersync. Whispersync allows readers to seamlessly switch between Kindle (ebook) and Audible (audiobook) editions.
Most of the time I switch between audiobooks and either print or ebook editions. Occasionally I switch among audiobooks, print editions and ebooks. Basically, as long as I am able to read the book in whatever format, I’m content.
Why Switch Among Formats?
The main reason is that I pick formats to best fit my current situation. If I’m taking a bus or cab, I’ll listen to audiobooks because my motion sickness doesn’t allow me to read words on a page. When I’m in the subway though, I have no problems reading, so when I manage to grab a seat, I take out my paperback (I rarely carry around hardcovers) and read. If I’m stuck standing and everyone’s squashed like sardines, I stick to listening.
When I’m sitting down at home or at a café or am waiting around somewhere, I tend to prefer reading over listening, simply because it’s faster. Plus, visually I am a slight bit more focussed and hardly ever have to repeat passages, unlike when I’m listening.
Also, people are less likely to disturb me when they can see that I’m reading. When I’m listening to an audiobook, they assume I’m listening to music and are at liberty to interrupt.
2. Bag Space
Like I said, I rarely carry around hardcovers. They’re too unwieldy for transportation. When I carry a backpack or large tote, I automatically pack a paperback. On workdays that I need my iPad, I use it for ebook reading as well. When I don’t need it, I pack my Kindle instead.
If I’m carrying a smaller handbag and I’m switching between formats of my current read, I pack my Kindle. During formal occasions that call for downsizing to a clutch, my Kindle comes with me if my clutch is big enough. Otherwise I depend on my phone not only for audiobooks but for ebooks too.
3. Lighting conditions
At night when it’s too dark to read printed editions and I don’t manage to get near enough to a bright enough light source, ebooks are ideal, either on my Kindle Paperwhite or iPad mini. Although, I do prefer my Kindle because I can dim the screen much more. The iPad is often too bright in dark lighting conditions.
4. Visual Fatigue
There are evening that my eyes are just too worn out from the day and refuse to look words. When that happens and I’m not tired enough to sleep, then I also switch to audiobooks. That way I get to continue the book without battling visual fatigue.
Lastly, the determining factor that has no rhyme or reason is my mood. Sometimes I pick a format just because I feel like it — I feel like listening, I feel like reading on my Kindle or I feel like flipping pages. It’s just a matter of format preference in that moment that I pick up my book to read.