Books and entertainment retailer Borders UK is to launch an online audio podcast series in an effort to drive traffic to its web site.

The podcasts, which will be free to download, will feature live performances and interviews with authors and musicians, as well as competitions and news. The podcasts will be available fortnightly from Borders’ web site, iTunes and about 20 other podcasting directories.

Borders UK digital marketing executive Nick Atkinson said: “They [the podcasts] complement our mix of products and enable us to build communities and reach out to a new demographic. None of our competitors are offering them.”

The move reflects Borders’ ambition to bolster its online presence. Last month, it launched its transactional web site, which carries more than 1 million titles alongside forums and blogging activities. The retailer expects the web site to become one of its biggest stores in terms of sales within 12 months.

The first podcast features an exclusive performance from Martha Wainwright, lasting for more than an hour.

Future podcasts will average 45 minutes and will be released more frequently if they are successful.

Atkinson said the podcasts are not just about driving traffic, but also to add value and give customers access to authors and musicians.

Other podcasts lined up include Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, as well as one with crime writer Jeffrey Deaver.

Interviews with musicians Portico Quartet and Neon Neon will also be available, as well as interviews with Borders employees including senior children’s buyer Becky Stradwick and senior fiction buyer Michael Jones, who talk about up-coming releases.

This month, Borders UK celebrates the 10th anniversary of its first store, on Oxford Street.