Codices have been around for more than 500 years, they have evolved over the years to now become e-books. E-books have evolved to have many different formats for different devices (e.g. Kindle, nooks, etc). Their portability and accessibility were taken many steps further and now we have audiobooks.
Every single person has their own way to learn and reacts differently to new information. I don’t think audiobooks are a form of reading, rather they are an experiential medium for users with different capabilities. for people who prefer to listen rather than (physically) engage completely.
I think it’s a matter of investment: sometimes you want to be 100% focused on a medium: with your eyes, body, and hands e.g. with a book. Sometimes you just want to listen while doing something else e.g. audiobook, podcast, radio. Avvai, my class fellow, likes to listen to audiobooks while following along with the physical book in front of her. It’s not right or wrong, it’s her preferred way of experiencing a narrative.
All the different mediums/platforms to read out there, have an audience: which makes me believe they are wanted by someone. There is a gap in the market which these services fulfilled e.g. nook, kindle, audible, apple books, etc. They all get traffic: in this world, if they are up and running it means they are useful for someone somewhere. As a designer, I know that no one design/system can fully satisfy everyone; even if said system is very sophisticated.
When I was young, graphics novels and comic books were frowned upon by my parents as they were not considered reading. Consequently, I was never allowed to buy a comic book. Instead, I would sneak Archie comics from my friends or read them in book shops, hidden from parental eyes. Now, I am firm that reading in its traditional form is not the best medium for every single person. Many people respond to graphic medium much more than they do to traditional codices. A nice way to tell learners apart is when given a new appliance to install, do they read the instruction manual or do they put on a youtube video.
I do not think any one form is superior as compared to another, they all serve different purposes and cater to different audiences. they are not stealing each others’ markets/users. Everyone out there has a different preference and unique way of learning that it is wrong to consider one medium “better” than another.