One of the first thing's you'll be told when it comes to editing is to read things out loud. It is often a good opportunity to find inconsistencies in the text or word repetition that can be missed on a read-through. This is particularly important for dialogue and making sure it sound "real." This advice is brilliant and should definitely be done. However, sometimes it's impractical to be reading a story aloud. Especially if you're in a crowded place, at a coffee-shop or something similar.
There is something that can help though, something my publishers put me onto a while ago, a PDF to speech app. There are a variety available, from free ones to paid ones. I have downloaded one onto my phone and, combined with a set of headphones, it is a great way to listen to the story out loud without having to look like you're talking to yourself. Providing of course that you don't mind a robotic tone and no infliction of tone.
That's where listening to a PDF to speech app can be a little bit different from reading text aloud, but providing you know why, it's still a good tool to have in your writing toolbox.
Of course, both reading aloud and PDF to speech apps differ from an actual audio book. With an audio book, it is paid voice actors reading and interpreting the text, giving it a warmth and a depth that a simple app can't have and that you're unlikely to adopt yourself if you're reading your own text back.That's why despite developments in these apps, audio books will always have a place in the world for those who like to "read" books that way.
What do you think about listening to books? Have you used a text to speech reader? Audio books? Or do you prefer text in front of you to read and absorb? I've listened to a couple of books as audio books, when I'm reading for enjoyment, nothing beats reading physical text.