Weblog on the Internet and public policy, journalism, virtual community, and more from David Brake, a Canadian academic, consultant and journalist
5 September 2005

Playlist magazine has a handy roundup of places to get free or cheap audiobooks, including an interesting organization called Tell Tale Weekly which sells the audiobooks it produces but for very small sums and gives the money to the people who read out the books, which has helped to produce a reasonably large list of available works. Then after five years (or 100,000 downloads) it releases the audiobooks that have been digitised under a Creative Commons license. Librivox is a similar effort but relies on volunteers to read the books and charges nothing for the result. There are a couple of books read by people available through Project Gutenberg as well – lots more if you are happy to listen to computer-generated dictation.

If you want to hear free contemporary SF instead, check out Escape Pod (which broadcasts short stories) and Podiobooks which hasn’t quite launched yet but you can subscribe to it through iTunes or whatever and wait…

Benjamen Walker’s Theory Of Everything is quite like one of my favourite radio programmes, This American Life, but… well… stranger (which is sometimes no bad thing). Ben is a professional radio producer and it shows.

If you are more interested in technology (and I am guessing most of you have some interest in it) the top-ranked podcast at the moment – This Week In Tech – is head and shoulders above much of the podcasting rabble. It features a large round table of tech luminaries and is a very convincing and enjoyable reproduction of the kind of tech-related banter, gossip and bluster that I used to enjoy myself when I was a tech journalist (though at over an hour each week it may be a little self-indulgent). For daily more ‘straight’ tech snippets, you could try Future Tense, and for recordings from the many technology-related conferences that seem to happen every other day across the US you should check out IT Conversations. And if you are a hardcore Macintosh user you should try listening to the MacCast (though frankly it could do with a little pruning as there is a lot of discussion of minutiae on it).

Update: If you want more audiobooks for no payment there are a number of streamed options. They are less easily downloadable (you need to use Total Recorder – PC – or WireTap Pro – Mac – to turn them into MP3s) but OneWord radio offers free audiobooks and book commentary 24 hours a day (streamed only) and the BBC – Radio 4 and BBC7 broadcast less but includes some originally commissioned work too and unlike OneWord the streams are archived (if only for a week) which makes capturing easier. A few BBC radio programmes are even being podcast (though not drama yet).

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