Podcasters February 22, 2021

Andrew Wilkinson: I'm quitting podcasts because audiobooks are better

Courtland Allen @csallen
  1. 3

    I'm 50-50 on audiobooks and podcasts.

    For me, audiobooks are the top choice for learning about concepts. For example, I'm reading Made to Stick right now. Highly recommend it. It's amazing if you want to learn how to share a message or an idea that people will remember and share.

    Podcasts are for staying informed and teaching me how others think. Good podcasts discuss recent events and trends. They talk to me about what's going on today. And they often showcase the authentic, real-time thinking of people who I respect. For example, there simply aren't any audiobooks that are going to show me how smart founders are thinking about how to best navigate the burgeoning creator economy.

    I do think staying informed can be overrated unless you have an important use-case. I'm surprised Andrew doesn't care, given that he's an investor and acquirer of companies. I care because I'm running Indie Hackers and need to know this stuff.

    1. 1

      Very well said! I agree -- There is a lot of value in podcasts because you get to observe how people develop their ideas in real-time. You see how the develop their messaging across media, the phrasing, diction, and tempo. That is all powerful stuff in story telling.

      We definitely live in a time of over-communication, and one must learn to curate his own feed.

  2. 2

    The old frenemy 'Time' strikes again, No matter how much we try to squeeze in the latest & greatest source for our FOMO; time is limited.

    For someone saturated by podcasts, knowledge to information ratio is definitely better with books i.e. until FOMO takes over and we return back to podcasts. Podcasts (audio blogging) predates Internet after-all.

  3. 2

    I took a podcast break for awhile and it was great for my productivity. (Audiobook break too)

    There’s something to “creating mode” vs “consuming mode” I think.

  4. 2

    Audiobooks: no easy way to buy and listen to them on the devices I want except for Audible with their predatory subscription-based pricing.

    Podcasts: lots of good ways to listen.

    That's the main issue right here. The problem is that the rights landscape for audiobooks is pretty much the same as the one for print books, so that limits who can take a seat at the table.

    1. 2

      Libby (https://www.overdrive.com/apps/libby/) is a great way to "loan" and listen to an audiobook from your local library directly on your mobile devices. Some may be checked out and not available immediately, but you can always put your name down on the list and checkout a different one in the meantime.

    2. 1

      You don't have a library where you're at? I have ~4 different apps (other than audible) and all are free...

      1. 1

        I currently live in a town of 50k people. My local library has 170 audiobooks available to borrow via an app called BorrowBox. I only have an interest in maybe two of these titles.

        What's more, they are all in English, whereas I like to listen to audiobooks in several languages.

        1. 1

          Bummer. Depending on your region, some libraries have bigger systems they're apart of, and/or you can join a local Uni library sometimes too.

  5. 2

    Funny thing is I agree with him, but I still listen to podcasts because they serve a different purpose for me than learning. Namely, podcasts simulate social environments for me.

    I spend a lot of time coding and not enough socializing. So listening to casual shows like @samparr's My First Million or the All In podcast lets me be a fly on the wall of conversations that I have opinions about and gives me an important primal sense of satisfaction.

    1. 3

      I listen to both of those shows, plus some mix of…

      • Startup to Last
      • Newsletter Crew
      • Software Social
      • Indie Bites
      • Run With It
      • Acquired
      • Means of Creation
      • Stratechery
      • Conversations with Tyler
      • a16z
    2. 2

      When you say social environments, is it background chatter? doesn't the conversation distract you from the code?

      1. 2

        They are distracting, so I tend to listen to them while cooking, cleaning, walking, etc., rather than while doing serious knowledge work.

        1. 2

          Exactly. Pretty much how I listen as well.

  6. 1

    I don't agree with him.

    Podcasts can be as repetitive as books can be.
    After all, there are numerous options for getting to learn about an specific topic.
    What changes in the end is the perspective, experience and story-telling of the person that's leading.

    But here's one thing we can get exclusively from podcasts, especially the ones with more than one host or with guests: the opportunity to listen closely to conversations we wouldn't otherwise.

    If it wasn't for the Indie Hackers Podcast, I'm not so sure I'd be able to listen to @csallen and @levelsio, two guys that have an influence on my journey so far, having a close conversation about how their products came to be.

  7. 1

    Podcasts are what would have become if radios allowed everyone to just enter the building and started talking on air. Not everyone is that interesting or necessary listening, oppose to what they think of themselves. Plus they make an hour long of that torture.

    1. 1

      Thankfully you are not forced to listen to any of them. Their number is not limited by available spectrum that prevents everyone from talking at the same time. Lots of windbags have podcasts, but at least it is a free market for your attention.

      On the other hand, I find 99% of broadcast radio to be mindless rubbish that follows tedious unoriginal formats pitched at the lowest common denominator.

      1. 1

        :)) yes, you're definitely right on both parts.

  8. 1

    I don't listen to either much because I prefer reading.

    Increasingly, I find that the few podcasts I want to hear, I also want to watch. So if I tune into an episode of something like TWiSt, I'm going to watch it on YouTube.

    Otherwise, I'm going to spend 1/3 or less the time and just read the transcript.

  9. 1

    I can’t imagine giving up podcasts, but I do know what he means about podcasts being repetitive, IF you listen to the same types of shows over and over. It honestly comes down to knowing what to listen to.

    Cut out chat shows if you must but I think it’s silly to think podcasts can’t bring tremendous knowledge. The amount of top tier, well-produced and researched (AND FREE) podcasts are insane. Plus it all depends on what you want. I learn a lot from a good interview and shows like The Skeptics Guide to the Universe have added an incredible amount to my knowledge about the world over the years even though it is discussion based.

    A counter-argument for me is that audiobooks are actually terrible for non-fiction. I love taking notes, whether manually or with Kindle highlights, and that is completely lost in audio form. You could always take notes while listening, but I think most people like to listen to things precisely when it is hard to take notes (chores, driving, etc). I’ve tried this before and it was kind of annoying how often I was pausing it to write ideas down. I also like taking notes with certain podcasts, but by being less information dense it’s not as unmanageable.

Recommended Posts