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What is the difference between podcasts and audiobooks?

I was recently with my friends and we talked about podcasts and audiobooks. I stumbled upon podcasts much later than most (less than a year ago) and have since become an avid listener of all sorts. Audiobooks, though? Not so much.

What surprised me is that there are many people out there, including my friends, who still don't know what a podcast actually is. You will find as many, if not more, who have never heard an audiobook. And among those who know the difference, some prefer the one to the other, often to some extent.

By the end of this article, you will know everything there is to know about podcasts and audiobooks. You will know how they are alike and how they are different. And you may even be persuaded to give it a try if you haven't already.

So if you, like my friends, don't know the difference between podcasts and audiobooks, read on...

Is there a difference?

On the surface, not much. Both are audio files that you can download and listen to offline or stream directly from the hosting service, though the latter option isn't as widely supported for audiobooks. There is no such thing as a hard and fast line, it's like trying to determine if something is art or not, "you'll know it when you see it" (or in this case, when you hear it).

ONE podcast it is always episodic, which means that it is divided into successive episodes that are published in some type of program, which is usually once a day, week or month. The content itself can be whatever you want it to be:interviews, panel discussions, news, tips, etc., and this is why podcasts are often seen as “on-demand radio shows”. In particular, you can subscribe to podcasts and receive new episodes as they become available.

What is the difference between podcasts and audiobooks?

On the other hand, an audio book It is a very specific type of content:singular recordings of pre-existing text. In other words, 99 percent of the time, an audiobook will also be available in non-audible form, and this is true whether it's a novel, a textbook, an essay, etc. Audiobooks are never released in episodic snippets, which means you can't subscribe to an audiobook like you can with a podcast.

However, there is a confusing overlap. Narrative podcasts like Standard , We are alive , and Limetown all can be thought of as audiobooks with each episode comprising a single chapter of the overall story. Other storytelling podcasts. Compelling Narrative Tales:12 Podcasts to Listen to on SoundCloud. Compelling Narrative Tales:12 Podcasts to Listen to on SoundCloud SoundCloud isn't all about the music. It also has a robust Storytelling section full of compelling podcasts. Here are 12 of the most compelling storytelling podcasts you can stream right now on SoundCloud. Read More , features separate short stories in each episode, almost like an anthology of short stories. But for the most part, the differences are easy to spot.


Perhaps the most striking difference between the two forms is the price.

If you're looking for entertainment on a budget, then podcasts are the way to go. Almost every podcast available is available for free, and since episodes are produced on a regular basis, you'll never run out of material to listen to. Of course, many podcasts, especially the most popular ones, have ads sprinkled throughout, but that's a small price to pay for an endless amount of valuable content.

Some producers are starting to experiment with paid subscription podcasts, but I don't see it becoming a very popular trend. A few podcasts already do this to a limited degree, offering bonus episodes to premium listeners, but even that's always on top of the episodes available for free, so I wouldn't be too concerned if it goes ahead.

What is the difference between podcasts and audiobooks?

On the other hand, if you want to listen to audiobooks, it will cost you a pretty penny. Consider The name of the wind by Patrick Rothfuss, which is available for $7 as a mass-market paperback, $9 as a Kindle download, $14 as a hardcover...and $27 as an audiobook.

Cheap audiobooks

You can get audiobooks at a lower price when you buy them together with their Kindle counterparts (the price of The name of the wind The audiobook is reduced to $3 if you buy the Kindle version) or when you subscribe to Audible, which costs $15 per month and allows you to download and keep one title per month. Yet even at these low prices, audiobooks just won't fit your entertainment budget How to Reduce Your Household Expenses in 7 Easy Steps How to Reduce Your Household Expenses in 7 Easy Steps Tired of seeing all your income go to waste? used for bills and expenses? You're not alone We show you some of the best ways to reduce your household expenses. Read more.

The Name of the Wind:(Kingkiller Chronicle, Book 1) The Name of the Wind:(Kingkiller Chronicle, Book 1) Buy Now On Amazon $26.95

Sure, there are places where you can find cheap or free audiobooks to download. Audiobooks are expensive! Here's how you can listen where cheap audiobooks are expensive! Here's how you can listen on cheap audiobooks are great, but can be really expensive. Here are some tips on how to get the best deal on your favorite audio books. Read More If you want to listen to modern bestsellers or a recently published self-help book, chances are you won't find it for free.


I have found that podcasts are generally "easier" to consume than audiobooks for two main reasons.

First, the time commitment is much lower for podcasts.. This is not always true, but is generally due to the episodic nature of the form. Most podcasts are shorter than an hour, and many of them are even in the 15-30 minute range. It's easy to slip one on the subway, run on the treadmill, or wait at the dentist's office.

The long and winding audiobook

Audiobooks are much longer. The first Harry potter lasts approximately 8 hours, The help It takes 18 hours to listen, a monster book like The name of the wind The clock hits 28 hours, and if you really want to torture yourself, try sitting Infinite Frivolity The duration of 56 hours. Can you listen to this in 15 minute chunks? Of course. Will it be as satisfying? I don't think so.

What is the difference between podcasts and audiobooks?

To be fair, audiobooks are great despite this because they allow you to "read" books that you would never have read before. Getting Started With Audiobooks:How To Finally Finish Your "Reading List" . Let's keep it simple. Read more . You can listen while you cook dinner, clean the house, or take a road trip. In fact, when you have a lot more time on your hands, audiobooks can be much more engaging than listening to 10 podcast episodes back to back.

Secondly, podcasts are easier to source and manage.. You can find dozens of podcast apps for mobile devices Top 8 Podcast Players for Android Top 8 Podcast Players for Android Want to listen to podcasts on your Android phone or tablet? Let us show you which apps to use. Read More My personal favorite is Podcast Addict, which is available on Android.

The beauty of podcasts is that a single app can pull and manage episodes from multiple sources. For example, podcasts can be found through iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud, but they all use the same subscription method (RSS). This means you don't have to juggle a bunch of different apps to listen to different podcasts.

What is the difference between podcasts and audiobooks?


Unfortunately, audiobooks are usually protected by DRM. What is DRM and why does it exist if it's so bad? [MakeUseOf Explains] What is DRM and why does it exist if it's so bad? [MakeUseOf Explains] Digital Rights Management is the latest evolution of copy protection. It's the number one cause of user frustration today, but is it justified? Is DRM a necessary evil in this digital age, or is it the model? ... Read More So if you only If you have DRM-free audiobooks, then you just need one of these audiobook players 3 Easy Ways to Listen to DRM-Free Audiobooks on Android 3 Easy Ways to Listen to DRM-Free Audiobooks on Android Want to listen to audiobooks without DRM restrictions? We sure have a deal for you. Read more . Likewise, if you buy all your audiobooks from a single retailer, you'll be fine just using their app. However, buying DRM-protected audiobooks from multiple retailers can become a headache to manage.

This, combined with the price trends mentioned above, explains why podcasts are more popular and more frequently consumed than audiobooks. According to Edison Research, we saw 46 million podcast listeners per month vs. 55 million audiobook listeners per year in 2015. Both industries are growing, but the podcast audience is growing faster.

Audiobook and podcast availability

At the end of the day, podcasts are more accessible than audiobooks, especially if you live outside of the US.

Audiobooks, like most forms of purchased digital media, may be regionally restricted. This is nothing new; It Happens With Online Music Streaming Spotify vs. Apple Music vs. Google Play Music:Which is Best? Spotify vs. Apple Music vs. Google Play Music:Which is the best? While there are a plethora of music streaming services out there, there are three main ones that stand out above the rest:Spotify, Apple Music, and Google Play Music. But which one is better? Learn More, with YouTube Videos How to Easily Bypass YouTube Region Filter How to Easily Bypass YouTube Region Filter Some YouTube videos are restricted by location. Fortunately, with a few tricks, you can unblock YouTube videos that are not available in your country for any content you want, regardless of your location. Read More Everyone else is cutting the cord, so why isn't it you? I cut the cord in 2013 and more and more people are following suit, ditching their cable service altogether. But not everyone is cutting the cord, and we decided to find out why... Read More to use a Kindle Fire in territories where it is not currently available. However, Amazon would shoot itself in the foot if it prevented its use; after all, it's... Read More We can thank the editors for this stupid rule..

Fortunately, most podcasts don't have to deal with any of that because global publishers are so much rarer in the podcast realm. In fact, most shows are created independently, and since creators want to maximize their audience size, podcast downloads are often available worldwide.

What is the difference between podcasts and audiobooks?

That said, I think good audiobooks are easier to find. According to Apple, iTunes tracked more than 250,000 unique podcasts in 2013. Compare that to Audible's library of 180,000 audiobook titles in 2016. There's less crap to watch, and audiobook genres are also clearer than genres. podcast genres, which helps when you're trying to find something new to listen to.

Here are our favorite places to find podcasts:

  • Itunes store
  • Google Play Music
  • SoundCloud
  • Stitcher

And here are our favorite places to find audiobooks:

  • Audible
  • Downpour
  • Overdrive
  • LibriVox

What are your favorite podcasts and audiobooks?

Despite the differences mentioned above, the truth is that Podcasts and Audiobooks are NOT at odds with each other . You don't have to choose one or the other, you can freely enjoy both! On the other hand, if you prefer one over the other, you shouldn't feel like you have to like both. If audiobooks aren't your cup of tea, that's fine.

I'm partial to podcasts, so here are a few we recommend you check out. There are podcasts to save money. 10 Podcasts to help you save money and get out of debt. 10 Podcasts to help you save money and get out of debt. There are many podcasts related to money, but these 10 are the best to help you get out of debt and master your money. Read more, podcasts to learn about technology 7 great podcasts that delve into technology, gadgets and hardware 7 great podcasts that delve into technology, gadgets and hardware Podcasts are one of the best ways to expand your knowledge while being entertained, and these tech related podcasts are sure to make you a tech savvy in no time. Read more, podcasts for book lovers Listen, Book lovers:10 of the best podcasts for bibliophiles. Listen up, Book Lovers:10 of the Best Podcasts for Bibliophiles. If you're always looking for book recommendations, these podcasts will stick around. your “read” make a comprehensive list and offer some insightful commentary on the lives of authors around the world. Read More That's not to say that no one else can listen to these podcasts, they are of particular interest to the male of the species. Read more . You might even want to check out our list of the best podcasts in 2015 The 20 Best Podcasts of 2015 – As Recommended by MakeUseOf The 20 Best Podcasts of 2015 – As Recommended by MakeUseOf Have you ever wondered what your favorite MakeUseOf authors listen to? when do you want it? learn something new, hear a good story, or just be entertained? This article means you need not wonder anymore. Read more.

So tell us:do you prefer podcasts, audiobooks, or both? We want to hear about podcasts and/or audiobooks that you enjoy listening to. Please tell us about them in the comments below!