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Topic: Spoken word and audio book radio on the net

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Old 10-09-2006, 12:12 AM
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Spoken word and audio book radio on the net

In addition to the standard audiobook downloads, library download services, and podcast sources that are discussed in this forum, what streaming or radio sources are people using? Is there anything that you would recommend? There are general sources which have "Listen Again" options, like the BBC radio 4 and BBC radio 7 programs, and other similar sources such as described briefly in this post's quick overview.

I'll start off with a few examples:
  • Chapter A Day
    This Wisconsin Public Radio site features readings of current popular books, with daily readings from the previous week remaining available for listening in streaming audio. Host Jim Fleming is usually the reader.
    The Final Solution: A Story of Detection by Michael Chabon is the selection for Monday October 9 through Friday October 20, 2006

    Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War by Nathaniel Philbrick is the selection for Monday October 23 through Wednesday November 9, 2006
  • Naxos Spoken Word Library
    This is a subscription service to streaming versions of NAXOS audiobooks ($15/month in the U.S. or $150/year; special educational institution and library rates), and has been offered, as have the NAXOS music subscription series, for well over a year. This may be more interesting now, because NAXOS has stepped up their production of audiobooks and unabridged releases -- a 65-CD volume of War and Peace was recently completed, and many contemporary unabridged works, such as Kafka on the Shore and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami, are now being produced. All newly published books are added to the library.

  • AudioBookRadio.net
    This UK site broadcasts streaming audio from published audiobooks 24/7 in a continuous loop. The programme guide is updated weekly and generally contains a mix of complete short works, such as short stories, along with longer audiobooks that have been broken into episodes of about 40 minutes and introduced in staggered cycles (so that if you start listening at any given week you won't find yourself in the middle of everything!). This site is partnered with www.spokennetwork.com for audio downloads.

Some additional comments: Spoken Network is a UK-based audio download service founded by Paul Smithson. They've been on-line for a while, but were planning to "soft launch" in May about the time of the 2006 Audies awards (and also acted as one of the Audies sponsors). Some background material about Spoken Network can be found in this Times Online article and this article from the Irish Examiner. Although they state that both PC and Mac compatible files are available, I've found the majority of offerings to use Windows "Plays for Sure" DRM -- meaning that you need to use Windows Media Player with DRM support (on a PC), and you also need a digital audio player which support download DRM -- i.e., won't work on an iPod, and won't work on the majority of regular DAPs. This is a disadvantage compared with Audible.

There is similar audio content compared with Audible, but UK publishers like CSA Word are featured, with narrators like Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie. (Just to be confusing, if you should want to listen to Hugh Laurie read Jerome K. Jerome's Three Men in A Boat in the CSA Word production, it's true you can't find this at Audible. However, it shows up in the iTunes store in the Music section under Spoken Word.) Spoken Net is an interesting option if you can deal with the "Plays for Sure" restrictions.

Anyone have other suggestions or have comments on these services? Any UK listeners care to report on Channel4 or programs like Oneword Radio? And for completeness, note that some additional streaming sources have been summarized in various posts such as this in the Recommend sticky. Non-fiction (history, biography, etc.) fans should take note of resources such as BookTV described in this resource post. Some KCRW radio streaming audio sources were mentioned in this post from the free audiobooks thread.
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