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.
Miss Bookiverse says
I agree with all your reasons and I love multi-format-reading :D I wish it were easier to achieve though. I mean, maybe the could sell multi-format-bundles? I know Amazon does something similar with Whispersync but I don’t want to rely on Amazon only. Most of the time if I buy a hard copy of a book, I’m too greedy to spend even more money on buying the same book in a different format. Libraries are helpful but not always stocked with what I need.
Shelumiel @ Bookish and Awesome says
You know what, I actually haven’t tried this. Usually I switch from a physical book to ebook but I switch titles too. But this is really interesting. I might try this. Awesome post!
Shelumiel @ Bookish and Awesome recently posted REVIEW: Mosquitoland by David Arnold
Yes, yes, yes! I do this ALL the time! In fact, I get a bit disgruntled when an audiobook version isn’t available. I love how multi-format reading allows me to get through a book much faster than I otherwise would. The Kindle Whispersync has been a godsend, especially when they discount the audiobook after you buy the e-book. I had a “friend” who told me that doing this was a “huge waste of money”…. but you know what? It’s MY money, so I’m going to do what I want!
Safah @ midnight pageturners says
This is a really unique post Josephine! I have to say I’ve never read in multiple formats and the only ones I use are physical books and my kindle/phone. Although I would really love to start listening to audio books, great post!
Safah @ midnight pageturners recently posted all the sci-fi feels – this night so dark
I wish I could read in as many formats as you do, but I can’t! I don’t like spending money for multiple copies, and I don’t ever have any problems that you’ve mentioned. The most multi-format I get is switching from the phone to the iPad. XD
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Dana @ The Unprinted Protagonist says
I had an audiobook phase back in eighth grade, but after that I haven’t really listened to any. My mind tends to wander when I listen, so I end up focusing on my thoughts instead of the book and have to rewind. I also read a lot faster than the narrator, so with my limited free time, I prefer to read myself, so I can get more reading in. I love physical copies, but I read mostly ebooks because they are easier to transport and cheaper. When I do own a physical copy, I sometimes switch between physical and ereader for both the tactile experience of holding a book and the lighting when it gets dark. I prefer my ereader to my phone because of the way it feels in my hand and the ease of eyestrain.
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Jade @ Bedtime Bookworm says
I totally just did this when I read Cinder – it was my first time mixing it up between an audiobook and the hardcover. I LOVED IT. Luckily I was able to get them both from the library at the same time. I had just heard so much about the audiobook for the Lunar Chronicles series so I wanted to listen, but I was so torn and wanted to read too so I did both :D I did try listening and reading at the same time once, but that didn’t work for me – I kept wanting to read faster than the audio. What I love about mixing the methods is that I can basically constantly be reading. Listening to audio when I’m doing stuff around the house but pick up the physical book when I have time to really sit down and read. I’m going to try to do this with my next read An Ember in the Ashes – it’ll just depend on if I get the audio book from the library in time :)
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Natalie @ Flowers in my Books says
This is a really cool post! Much like you, I get motion sickness when I read in moving vehicles so I don’t usually bring books around with me (unless I know I’m going to be waiting somewhere and need some entertainment – or I’m going to take pictures). I also don’t know how I feel about audiobooks. I’ve never listened to one but it drives me crazy when people read things to me, mostly because I like to imagine the character’s voices in my head rather than have them laid out for me in a way that I might not have imagined. AND I like to read out loud during big speeches so that I don’t miss anything. GAH.
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Alexa S. says
What a fascinating post! I actually have never attempted to read in multiple formats, but it sounds like something I should try out (especially because you’ve given such great reasons for switching between them). Love that you’ve shared the particulars of this reading habit of yours!
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