Free or cheap fiction audiobooks or podcasts
March 8, 2011 9:53 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for entertaining, free or inexpensive audiobooks or podcasts that can be easily downloaded from an iPhone. 

- free or cheap
- easy to download via an iPhone
- entertaining and relatively easy to follow

I enjoy the We're Alive zombie podcast, and I was able to download all the archives for free on iTunes. I would love to find other podcasts or audiobooks that are similarly easy to access and easy to listen to. 

Troubles to date:
- half of what I've found are *.rar, zipped, flash, or other formats that require a full computer
- audible and amazon audiobooks seem expensive (unless I'm overlooking the deals?)
- one-off short stories aren't what I'm looking for right now
- the free books on librivox seem to be classics. I don't mean to be a cretin and will continue to work on Moby Dick, but I suspect Philip K Dick is more my speed now. I have trouble following long explanations in ye olde dialects while shopping at Home Depot and carrying heavy loads of gravel.

What do you recommend? I know I've mentioned two sci-fi examples, but I like all sorts of themes: I recently enjoyed reading The Corrections (Franzen) and Blindness (Saramago), and watching the movie The Fighter. I have seen threads with audiobook recommendations, but I was having trouble filtering by cost and format. Thanks!
posted by slidell to Writing & Language (18 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
This American Life podcast
posted by Patbon at 10:13 PM on March 8, 2011

Best answer: Decoder Ring Theatre
posted by cwhitfcd at 10:16 PM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'll also recommend Uniform from Theatre of the Midnight Sun.

Both of these I originally found through Radio Drama Revival.
posted by cwhitfcd at 10:22 PM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

These aren't audiobooks but they are entertaining podcasts:

Marc Maron's podcast WTF has an iPod app. WTF is a fantastic podcast--part storytelling, part long discussions of the craft of standup, part confessional, source of fine t-shirts.

The Earwolf* family of podcasts is also available as a separate app. I'm a huge fan of Sklarbro Country and Comedy Death-Ray.

I suspect that most podcasts are either commissioning their own apps or looking at tagging onto another one for just this reason. Not only do they allow you to download without a computer, they can upsell you on other content. Not a bad business model, really.

* - (Earwolf radio BOOM dot com wooo woo woooooo Psheeeeeeew ksplooooooooom. the wolf's dead)
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 10:41 PM on March 8, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks to all of you for the suggestions. Your suggestions are exactly the kind of thing I'm looking for, cwhifcd.

Marc Maron and This American Life are good podcasts, but what I meant to ask for here are audio fiction stories of some length -- either an audiobook, or a long-running series released as a podcast. Sorry for leaving out that most basic request in the question. Hope this clarification helps, and thanks again for all of the suggestions.
posted by slidell at 11:10 PM on March 8, 2011

Best answer: is a big archive of free audiobooks, split into podcast episodes. You can download the chapters yourself or set up a custom RSS feed (the site makes this easy) so the your podcast app will automatically fetch the next episode(s) at regular intervals.

While there are a few out-of-copyright books in there, it's mostly self-published work and so the quality is very variable. Some of it pretty rubbish, but there are some real gems in there too. Have a dig around and listen to lots of first episodes.

Personally, I'd strongly recommend Quarter Share and the rest of the series: it won't change your life, but the characters are engaging and the author/reader is a great storyteller. Brave Men Run and Shadowmagic are both young-adult fantasy/sci-fi so might not be to your taste, but I quite enjoyed them as something to listen to with half an ear while tired. The charts of their most popular podcasts/books are here.
posted by metaBugs at 2:11 AM on March 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

I should add that I haven't tried navigating the site with an iPhone. Works fine for my Android phone though, so I expect it'll be fine for you too.
posted by metaBugs at 2:13 AM on March 9, 2011

Best answer: There are direct .mp3 links to audiobook versions of some of the novellas in my Ted Chiang post from last year. It's all really fascinating and thought-provoking science fiction, among the best in years. If you're looking for long-form stuff, your best bets are "Understand" (four-part mental augmentation thriller), "Hell is the Absence of God" (really dark religious fiction), and "The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate" (a well-acted time travel story set in ancient Babylon). All three run over an hour each.
posted by Rhaomi at 3:15 AM on March 9, 2011

Best answer: Check out whether your public library has audiobooks available to borrow. Mine has them available by Overdrive, which means that you have to use your computer to download the proprietary software, and you have to download the file to your computer but then you can transfer it to your ipod pretty easily.

Podcastle, Escape Pod, and Pseudopod podcast short genre fiction.
posted by Jeanne at 4:33 AM on March 9, 2011

Best answer: Also on - I've just recently started listening to Murder at Avedon Hill and am really enjoying it. I've also liked: 7th Son (although I'm not done with all of them yet), The House of Grey, and the Trader Tales series.
posted by Fiorentina97 at 5:21 AM on March 9, 2011

LibriVox does free public domain audiobooks. They're not super-professional (they're read by volunteers), but if you like Sherlock Holmes, P.G. Wodehouse, or Jane Austen, you're all set.

You can download them from the iTunes store; just search for LibriVox (and you can try and just search for the title of a public domain book that you think might be in there. They're divided up into chapter-length podcasts.
posted by mskyle at 7:22 AM on March 9, 2011

In addition to downloadable audio books from the library, my city has a huge collection of audio books on CD to check out. Use iTunes to rip them to mp3 files and import to your iTunes library.
posted by CathyG at 7:49 AM on March 9, 2011

Best answer: Building on Jeanne's answer, if your library subscribes to Overdrive, they've added an iphone app that downloads the audiobooks directly to your phone.
posted by songs about trains at 8:20 AM on March 9, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks, these look great. I'm still trying to figure out how to download mp3s and play them later with my iPhone (as opposed to getting on a real computer, downloading them, then syncing to the phone), but I can stream them in the meantime. Thanks!
posted by slidell at 9:36 AM on March 9, 2011

Best answer: Scott Sigler has made a business of giving away his audio books. He writes thriller/horror with a strong sci-fi angle. He's also a fine reader with the exception of his female voices.
posted by chairface at 12:17 PM on March 9, 2011

Best answer: Patrick E. McLean's How to Succeed in Evil:
the novel in podcast form
the earlier pre-novel podcast

also, Unkillable (caveat: by the same author, but I've not listened to it myself)
posted by juv3nal at 12:50 PM on March 9, 2011

Best answer: Surprised this wasn't posted, but you might want to try some old time radio drama podcasts. They're between 1/2 hr and an hour, and really interesting in the way they spark the imagination in storytelling from a time before television spelled everything out for you.

These are mostly public domain by now, and super interesting.

an iTunes search for old time radio should get you started.
posted by softlord at 9:45 AM on March 10, 2011

Mur Lafferty Presents: The Takeover, available in the iTunes store

and I know you said fiction, but you have to listen to The Moth Podcast and Risk!, both available in the iTunes store
posted by emilygraves05 at 1:02 PM on May 15, 2011

« Older Advice for screening a foreign renter   |   To gargle, or not to gargle Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.