Best Sites for Podcasts and Audiobooks

Our top picks for audio centric, literary fare.

With summer but a serve and rally away, there's no better time to download some top class audio material; whether it's a podcast to listen to on your evening run, or a full length book to make bank holiday travel that iota more agreeable, here are our top picks for audio centric, literary fare.


Soundcloud or the YouTube of audio as it's better known, is, without a doubt the bastion of multidisciplinary listening. Whilst it's up to the discretion of the publisher/record label as to whether they'll offer full or taster length material, the free service mitigates the uncertainty with its Encyclopedic stream of virtually every podcast, come audiobook, come music clip known to English speaking man.


Remember the days of bulky CD's? A dozen of them in plastic sleeves, in a white square coffin/case? Well those days are no more, because with Audible's vast database (don't miss the accompanying app) all that dead time (at the bus stop, wandering through departures) can be put to good use, listening to everything from Austen through to the latest batch of Booker nominees. They've even got upcoming Guest Editor Charles Cumming's latest novel, A Colder War (Amazon), a superior spy thriller in the Le Carré mould, read by Jot Davies, which publishes this week (at £13.99),


You can access more than 40,000 bestsellers and all-time classics at Audiobooks, stream and download to your smartphone, tablet or computer. Join up and you can listen to your first book for free. Choose from romance, thrillers, business and bios. Alternatively check out Audiobooks' own recommendations or take a look at what other members are listening to.


If budget is your priority, then you'll welcome the addition of LIBRIVOX, the service that galvanised volunteers from across the globe in the services of literature, asking them to read their favourites and upload them to the site. Naturally this makes quality control hard to police, but if you have time to cut the wheat from the chaff, there's some notable books on offer. Especially good for the classics (read in an American accent no less) or if you're an audio star in the making, looking to hone your skills. There are over 100 British and Irish readers, including some excellent and very prolific narrators. Between these latter readers, their recordings have had millions of downloads.

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Ok, ok we know we're stating the obvious, but for those in the dark, it's worth pointing out that the iCloud feature which services all devices simultaneously, must not be underestimated, nor its psychic ability to keep you on the same page. The downside? Just don't think the files are yours to share, or er keep (till death do us part and all that).


This US centric site is a paid subscription service; think LoveFilm for books - CDs are sent in the post, but for those in the UK it's the streaming service that's of interest with over 120,000 titles to choose from. Prices begin at $7.49 for a single book, and you can even download the first one for free whilst you decide whether to commit long term.


The BBC must be lauded as they're first off the mark with their incredible bank of programmes available as downloads (usually within around half an hour of live transmission). From local radio, sports, right through to specialist World War One fare (there's even CBeebies for the kids), this is the service will keep you in good stead for years to come.

24 April 2014