Importing audio book CDs into iTunes

by Michael Alderete on 5/8/2005 · 59 comments

Note: These instructions have been superceded by a new version available in the Aldo on Audiobooks section of this site. Please use that version instead of this page.

Rochelle and I have fallen in love with listening to books on our iPods. We’ve signed up for two books a month through Audible.com, and for me, that pace is actually pretty good. But Rochelle has more time to listen while commuting and at work; she blows through our two books a month.

She recently started going to the library to get audio books there, on CD. The San Francisco Public Library has quite a lot of them, and you can reserve them online. The only downside with the CDs is they cannot be played (directly) on an iPod. Enter the second half of Apple’s one-two combination, iTunes, which makes importing CDs relatively easy, and keeping them organized, syncing them with an iPod, and making custom playlists extremely easy.

The only problem is, it’s optimized for music CDs. It’s taken quite a bit of trial and error — mostly error — to come up with a recipe that works well, and produces audiobook files that are reasonable in size and quality, and as easy to use on our iPods as the books from Audible.com. I’m going to save you some time, and share the recipe.

Importing Audio Book CDs into iTunes

Note: These instructions use screenshots of iTunes 4.7, but work fine in iTunes 4.8 and 4.9, there are no meaningful changes.

Set Up iTunes for Optimal Import Settings

You want to set iTunes to import the audio content of audio book CDs quite differently than you would for importing music. You don’t need to use a high bitrate; that leads to huge files, with little improvement in quality. You also don’t need stereo, because most audio books are mono; saving the left and right tracks only doubles the file size, without changing the sound at all. Last, you want to make sure the files are bookmarkable on your iPod; AAC files can be made bookmarkable, while MP3 files cannot.

Note: Even AAC files need a trick to be bookmarkable. You can do it manually on a PC (it’s not hard, just rename the files manually, details below), but on a Mac, you can download and install the Make Bookmarkable script to make the process very simple.

  1. Launch iTunes, and open the Preferences dialog.
  2. Click on the General tab.
  3. Set the On CD Insert action to Show Songs.
    iTunes Preferences, General panel
    You don’t want to auto-import, because there are a couple of steps which are easier to do before you import.
  4. Click on the Importing tab.
  5. In the Import Using pop-up, choose AAC Encoder. This format is required for the file to be bookmarkable.
  6. In the Setting pop-up, choose Custom…
  7. In the AAC Encoder settings dialog that appears, choose a Stereo Bit Rate of 64 kbps, a Sample Rate of Auto, and a Channels of Mono.
    iTunes Preferences, AAC Encoding panel
    The combination of the stereo bit rate and mono channel means that the real bit rate recorded will be half, or 32 kbps. This is equivalent to Type 4 format on Audible.com, their highest quality recording. Click OK.
    Note: There are reports that mono AAC files can cause lockups on iPods when played. Doesn’t happen to me. Your mileage may vary.
  8. Uncheck the Play songs while importing and the Use error correction when reading Audio CDs options.
    iTunes Preferences, Importing panel
    These will both slow the import process tremendously, so turn ‘em off. Some people also recommend unchecking the Create file names with track number, but I am not sure why. Click OK.

Import the Audio Book CDs

Importing CDs for audio books can be kind of painful, because there are usually a lot of them. To make matters worse, each CD usually has dozens of tracks on it, which makes it a nightmare to manage on the small screen of an iPod. Worst of all, the track names are rarely recognized by the automatic lookup service, so you need to enter them by hand. This import process attempts to reduce the amount of manual input, while also making sure that the track information is highly usable on an iPod.

  1. Insert the CD, and wait for the tracks to appear in iTunes. Sometimes you’ll have to dismiss a dialog or two which invites you to do some automatic action. Don’t, just display the tracks.
  2. Select all of the CD’s tracks, and choose Join CD Tracks from the Advanced menu. This will consolidate the many tracks on the CD into one, which will make it much easier to manage when the tracks are copied to your iPod.
    Note: If the Join CD Tracks menu item is dimmed, you need to re-sort the list by the track number; see Apple’s knowledgebase article iTunes 4: Join CD Tracks Command Is Dimmed for details.
  3. Select Submit CD Track Names from the Advanced menu.
  4. In the CD Info dialog that appears, fill out the information you know about the audio book.
    iTunes Submit CD Track Names, CD Info dialog
    1. Artist: the book’s author
    2. Composer: I use this to record the reader of the audio book
    3. Album: the book’s title
    4. Disc Number: which disc this is out of how many total discs
    5. Genre: “Audiobook”
    6. Year: the year the book or recording was published, if you care
  5. Click OK, and the information will be submitted. You will probably be prompted to Select CD Category, since the online database uses a different category for audio books. Choose “Books & Spoken”, and click OK.
    iTunes Submit CD Track Names, Category dialog
  6. You’ll get a dialog telling you it’s done, click OK.
  7. When the submission process is completed, all of the tracks on the CD should have the appropriate information attached to them. This means everything has worked so far. So…
  8. Click the Import button (top right corner) to import this disc, using the import settings you set up initially.
  9. When the import finishes, eject the CD.
  10. Switch to your Library, and find the newly imported track. There should be only one. Select it, and press Command-I to do a Get Info on the track.
    iTunes Song Info panel
  11. Verify all of the information there. The song Name will be the same name as the album. Since the Name will be what you see on your iPod, you want to add the disc sequence number to it. A shorter format is better, especially if you have an iPod mini, with the more narrow screen. I generally add “xx/yy”, where xx is the disc number, and yy is the total number of discs. Be sure to add a leading zero to the disc number if the total number of discs will be more than one digit, e.g., “04/13” rather than “4/13”. This way, the tracks will sort correctly when sorted by Name.
  12. You may also want to add a note to the Comments field, to note where you obtained the book, etc.; I type “Library AAC” into my imported tracks.
  13. Repeat this process for the each CD in the audio book, until you have imported all of the CDs.
  14. In your Library, select all of the tracks which you just imported. From the iTunes Scripts menu (the stylized S icon), run the Make Bookmarkable script. This script changes the type of AAC file from “m4a” to “m4b”. The iPod treats m4b format files a little differently: they show up in the Audiobooks main menu, and they are bookmarkable, which means they will remember where you were when you stopped listening, even if you play other things in the meantime.
    If you’re using iTunes on a PC, you’ll need to do this manually. Changing the filename extensions from “.m4a” to “.m4b” will do the trick. Use the File/Show Song File menu choice to reveal the folder with the book files, and rename away. If you can’t see the “.m4a” file extension, then _un_check the Hide extensions for known file types option in the Advanced Settings section of the Folder Options control panel.
    Windows XP Folder Options Advanced Settings
  15. Sync to your iPod, and enjoy a great book!

A final note for the benefit of RIAA lawyers, and those looking to avoid same: We use this process to copy borrowed audio books from CD to our iPod, so we can listen to books we’ve checked out from the public library. That’s a fair use of the copying capability that is built into iTunes. When we’ve listened to the book, we delete it. Keeping the book, or file swapping it, would be illegal. We don’t do that.

Alderete May 13, 2005 at 6:35 pm

To answer a couple of emailed questions, these instructions should work just fine for Windows iTunes users, except you need to manually change the file extension from “.m4a” to “.m4b” (this is what the Make Bookmarkable script does so nicely in step 14 on Mac OS X).

blah June 3, 2005 at 3:37 pm

i’m on a PC and tried ren *.m4a *.m4b in a dos prompt and the books play perfectly on my G1 ipod. Do the books stay loaded in the cache? I’m worried about the battery life.

Greg June 8, 2005 at 7:33 pm

I can’t access “join cd tracks” before importing . iTunes 4.8 mac Huh? Greg

Alderete June 9, 2005 at 8:00 am

blah: I dunno about books staying loaded in cache; that’s all up to your iPod. It manages memory automatically, based on what you’re playing, etc. I would say that it’s totally unrelated to renaming your files, but that’s just a hunch.

Greg: I’ve noticed that sometimes that option is dimmed out in the menu. It happens if you’ve got anything besides the CD tracks selected. If that’s not it, hmmm, dunno. Try searching Apple’s knowledge base, I guess…

Update: I went and searched Apple’s knowledge base, and came up with “the answer”:http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=93624, also added to the article above.

Brian June 13, 2005 at 12:09 pm

Thanks for the article. I have tired this on my iBook with 4.8 on my 4G 20 GB iPod and have had no success. I do have a few other AAC audio books I picked up though Podcasts and they do not use the .M4B extension, but still are bookmarkalbe audio books.

Thanks again!

Lee June 15, 2005 at 11:51 am

Thanks for the very clear instructions. Now, about all the books I had already recorded…Is it possible to join the tracks of already existing albums or is that done as part of the recording process?

Alderete June 15, 2005 at 3:03 pm

Lee: It does not seem to be possible to join tracks together once they are imported into iTunes. I’ve read about other people using external audio software to accomplish this. I think that sounds like a pain in the butt, and I wish that iTunes would do this more easily. Maybe someone will write an AppleScript to automate this action, like the Make Bookmarkable script does for changing the file type.

Brian: From what I’ve read, only two types of files are truly bookmarkable: Audible.com’s proprietary format, which iTunes can play, but not create, and AAC files which iTunes and iPods see as being in the “M4B” format. Note that an iPod will normally hold your place on a given track, even across off/on cycles, but this is not being bookmarkable, because it will lose that place on a track the moment you play a different track.

Wintel Mac June 15, 2005 at 7:10 pm

I”ve bought 50-60 books from Audible. Are there really ANY other dealers on the web. I found one which had a very small inventory and a really weird download system.

Bookmarks, or the lack thereof, are my biggest problem. It’s too easy for dummies like me to push the wrong button on my iPod and wipe out current position. While bookmarks help they’re usually placed in such oddball places on Audible books (that have bookmarks; many don’t) it’s still a pain to get back to where I was.

I’ve noticed iPods also seem to like the “Audiobooks” tag better than the “Audio Books” tag (if there’s any tag at all). Audible has a ton of REALLY old stuff. The ones to really look out for are the Level 1 that they bump to Level 2 to get them to play on more players. They sound like someone playing a tin whistle in the background. BTW, with the number of Audiobooks I have I always move the “heard” ones to a FireWire drive. I then have a backup of the PowerBook G4 (where all my digital photos also used to live but have now been moved) and then have to run backups of that drive to another FireWire drive.

While I’ve seen Level 2 recommended for the Shuffle, they sound terrible to me with an iPod and good quality earphones (ER6i, UM2). Maybe all the background clutter, or whatever it’s called on low quality MP3s, sounds OK on Apple’s freebie earphones, but not on decent quality ones.) Great article. Many thanks.

Carter June 18, 2005 at 1:37 pm

Man, I’d been trying to figure this out for a looooong while. Thanks for the well-written instructions!

Tim June 20, 2005 at 6:58 am

Thanks for the instructions - I imported two of my books on CD this weekend following the above. One shows up in audiobooks, the other does not. iTunes 4.8, WinXP, photo 60GB. I guess I can live with it for now, but I would prefer to have them bookmarkable. I will maybe check some out of the local library to test out other ones. I can listen to both of them and have not checked to see if the non-audiobook one restarts at correct place.

Any ideas what could be wrong? It seems strange that one would show up and one wouldn’t.

Thanks again for the instructions.

Alderete June 21, 2005 at 12:26 pm

Tim: Most likely, you changed the file extension for one book, but not the other. iPods will only put tracks which are “.aa” (Audible.com only) or “.m4b” in the Audiobooks menu.

You should still be able to find the other book on your iPod, by going to Music —> Genres —> Audiobook (assuming you changed the genre of your CD files to “Audiobook” as outlined above).

Last thought: When we change the file extension for files on Rochelle’s PC, as described above, iTunes at first “loses” the files. I guess it’s because the file name changed, and iTunes doesn’t know where it “moved” to. You might need to “reattach” the files, by right-clicking and viewing their info; iTunes will give you the opportunity to find the lost files. Pain in the butt, but that’s Windows…

Richard June 25, 2005 at 4:23 am

Man the riaa really sucks - is it necessary for law abiding citizens to have to add a footnote like yours in the fear that they will be set upon by a bunch of angry riaa laywers?

Randy Wilson July 9, 2005 at 11:51 am

First of all let me start by saying thank you very much for this awsome how-to article. I am in Graduate School in Chicago and take the train everywhere so have lots of time to listen to audiobooks. Now I can actually get them on my Ipod in a more reasonable fashion. I have always been a little leary of “playing with” my ipod and itunes as I use them so heavily.

Second of all, I am a PC person (converted from Mac long ago out of business neccesity).  The part about the m4a to m4b, I have a solution and it involves installing a little freeware application that I use all the time to rename massive amounts of pictures, encrypt files, shred files, etc.  It is very lightweight and did I mention FREE!!  Anyway the program is called <a href="http://www.rjhsoftware.com/rjhextensions/">rjhExtensions</a>

This program allows you to specify the file name and you can do a sequential count if you want or you can just change the extensions (you will have to repoint iTunes to the new file name anyway).  It really is a very cool tool and will make life much easier if you work with a lot of files and especially audiobooks!!

Jennifer July 18, 2005 at 6:33 pm

Wow, thanks SO much for this wonderfully helpful tutorial. For those of us who need to import our audiobooks from sources other than iTunes and Audible this is crucial information. You describe everything quite well, and as a result I was able to successfully listen to an audiobook on my iPod.

Thanks again! :)

John Davis July 19, 2005 at 11:18 am

Michael,

I am going to give this to my wife because she is trying to listen to the new Harry Potter on her ipod. One problem she is having is that the last one or two minutes of a chapter is cut off on the ipod. Should this fix that problem.

Richard July 20, 2005 at 7:21 pm

Hi Michael,

Thanks for the great advice. All works well on our iPOD, using a PC, except being a computer newbie I can’t figure out how to convert the file name. When I find the audio file in the iTunes folder, it just says it’s an MPEG4 file, but has no actual file extension, even when I right-clik properties.

HELP!!!

Richard.

Bill Hanson July 20, 2005 at 9:17 pm

I have wasted a lot of time trying to do this. Your instructions were first rate. Thanks.

Joe Pinho July 21, 2005 at 12:20 pm

Hi. THANKS FOR THE INFO! theres just one problem how do i change it from m4a to m4b!? ahhhhhhh stupid windows!

Elysha July 28, 2005 at 11:44 am

Thank you so much for taking your time to explain this so clearly! Your directions are excellent and I was able to load two books to my ipod with no trouble. You saved me a ton of time! One question: With a bookmarkable track, is there anyway to “rewind” a little on the ipod? I was listening to one of the books today and missed a few minutes. I’m afraid to go back because I don’t want to go all the way to the beginning. (I’m about 40 minutes into the track.) Any idea?

Keith Brister July 31, 2005 at 8:53 pm

Great! Except it is not working at all for me. I’m using iTunes 4.9 (17) and I’ve followed your directions to the letter. First, the script did not change the file extension(!), but this I could do by hand. I tried changing “.m4a” to “.m4b” as well as “M4B “, but to no avail. When the file gets transfered to the ipod it always gets changed to “.m4a” and never makes as a bookmarkable file. I would always remove the track in question and update the ipod to force iTunes to transfer the file before each time I made a change.

Either I’m doing something stupid or Apple has put a stop to us putting audio books on ipods. I hope I’m just doing something stupid.

Thanks again for your excellent site!

Keith

Mark August 2, 2005 at 11:54 am

This is really annoying to have to change all the files to book markable when you have almost 20 cds with 10-15 tracks on each cd

Stefan August 7, 2005 at 4:28 pm

Wow! Thanks A LOT for this superb Howto! :-) Quite reasonable and works fine for me. However, there are two things I still want to be able to do: 1) stitching together these grouped AAC files from each of the CDs of one Audiobook to make ONE BIG file for ONE book… (like the ones that come from audible.com) 2) make this file not only bookmarkable (that prob is solved) but index it so that I can jump on my ipod from chapter to chapter inside of this one huge AAC file (like the ones that come from audible.com, too) There’s a perfect tool to do these things, I guess: MarkAble from ipodsoft.com — but it’s for Windows only!!! :-( And I’m Mac! But I really can’t believe that there’s no such tool for OS X! Come one! iTunes was first on the Mac! So there must be folks who came across these problems long time before Windows folks became aware of it! Any hints? Thanks again & nice greetings from Germay, Stefan.

Stefan August 7, 2005 at 4:34 pm

here’s a little Mac tool (AppleScript for iTunes) that glues together several audio files in iTunes: http://www.versiontracker.com/dyn/moreinfo/macosx/26713

Take care, Stefan.

Ryan Thrash August 16, 2005 at 6:05 pm

Here’s an even better Applescript for joining tracks that will ALSO add the Chapter marks when all the dependent tools are included: http://www.dougscripts.com/itunes/scripts/scripts07.php?page=1#jointogether

barry cohen August 19, 2005 at 3:31 pm

had a 5 cd audio book — discs 2 to 5 went on my ipod 20 gig no problems — i could not get disc to be recognised by the i pod though it was on i tunes albeit the tracks were not in order.

Any ideas to tweak this?? is it a ploy used to stop such use—copying to cd does not encounter this problem??

barry london uk

janine September 8, 2005 at 9:30 pm

This information has just saved me from insanity. I was having so many problems getting my audiobooks into m4b. It looks like I’m having the same prob. as barry from the UK though. Two of the discs from one book worked, but the other three are bookmark enabled and don’t show up under the audiobooks. Freaky. Any other tips?

Simon Davis September 10, 2005 at 12:48 am

To rename multiple .m4a files to .m4b files in Windows just open a Command Prompt, browse to the directory the m4a files are in and type:

xcopy *.m4a *.m4b

This creates a copy of all the m4a files with an m4b extension, just delete the .m4a files afterwards.

Easy!

Brendon September 10, 2005 at 4:38 pm

OK, I think I’m just new or something. I imported the CD like you said (with the Join CD tracks) and I have my file. I don’t modify it in any other way. I then use both Make Bookmarkable and the newer (for v5) Selected Tracks Bookmarkable and both say Done. I then check the file extension on the song file and it hasn’t changed at all. I then manually change the file thru finder and close and reopen iTunes. Neither way causes the file to show up in the Audiobooks section of search. I know my audible files do show up on the Audiobooks search. I don’t know what i’m doing wrong or perhaps its the file I’m using? I import as the default AAC 128 and all that. Is it not supposed to show up under audiobooks, is there a problem with this disc/book, etc? Any help is much appreciated!

pamiella September 11, 2005 at 9:32 am

will this work on itunes5? I notice a few menu items in preerences are different now.

gee September 14, 2005 at 4:59 am

i have already downloaded rjhExtensions but i have totally no idea how to change a m4a file to m4b. can someone please give a detailed explanation due to my lack of knowledge in computers. or if there’s an easier way to change m4a files to m4b, please do give explanation because although there are loads in above informations, i still dont quite get how to change them.

gee September 16, 2005 at 4:38 pm

thankyou simon davis, i have finally stuff in all my audiobooks under the audiobook section in my ipod, however, it shows up under both sections, audiobook AND song. is there anyway i can get rid of it from the song section?

Karl Junker September 18, 2005 at 8:38 am

As for iTunes Windows users. In terms of manually changing filenames from”.m4a” to ”.m4b” this can be easily done with a free mp3 tagging software called “mp3tag”. It also helps in automating labeling and naming the files. e.g. to provide more useful %titles% etc. http://www.mp3tag.de/

Karl Junker September 18, 2005 at 11:51 am

I kindly want to ask a question related to “Importing audio book CDs into iTunes”: I simply imported my Audiobook CD’s using iTunes v.5. If the tracks were properly recognized online via Gracenote, I did not change anything. In case tracks were not recognized, I renamed the tracks, albumtitle etc. using mp3tag (http://www.mp3tag.de/) on Windows. I use the Genre “Audiobooks” and would like to see these showing up in the “Audiobooks” menu on the iPod (this menu can be activated/deactivated in “Settings - Main Menu” on the iPod). However, my books only show up in the “Music - Genre - Audiobooks” section rather than the first level. Any ideas what I can do? Furthermore: What setting is recommended for importing stereo audiobooks into iTunes? Thanks

nanob September 18, 2005 at 2:20 pm

does anyone know why the “join cd tracks” is greyed out now? I was working fine until a couple of weeks ago

t22design September 19, 2005 at 3:01 pm

For those Windows XP users not knowing how to change file extensions to “.m4b”:

Goto ‘My Computer’. Goto the ‘Tools’ menu, and select ‘Folder Options…’ Click the ‘View’ tab. Make sure the ‘Hide extensions for known file types’ box is NOT checked.

Now when you navigate to a folder on the hard disk (e.g. My Music\somebook) you will see the files have the file extensions that might’ve been missing before.

Hope this helps someone.

(PS if you now rename a file, and remove the file extension, Windows won’t know what application to open it with!

e.g. Picture.jpg -> Picture

So if you are renaming anything else, remember not to change the 3 or 4 letters after the final ’ . ’ )

HPD September 21, 2005 at 6:40 pm

Ok now i have it on itunes how do i get it onto my ipod in the audio book folder in my ipod?

Trent September 25, 2005 at 2:28 pm

Going to give this a try… using Windows XP and a IPod 20 gb. But a question: the “audio book” I’m going to put on the IPod thingy is a lecture series contained on 12 cd’s, each cd has 2 lectures on it. Each “lecture” has 6 tracks, so the 1st and the 7th track is the beginning of each [next] lecture.

I’d like to bookmark and/or label each lecture, i.e., track 1 and track 7, of each cd when I “rip” them to my PC so that I can find each lecture and go to the beginning of that particular lecture when they’re in the IPod.

How can I do this? Appreciate the help!

Paulette September 28, 2005 at 10:41 am

Everything worked perfectly…except now my 4g iPod locks up when I stop listening to the book for a few minutes. Must be an issue with the bookmarking. I used iTunes 4.9.17. to convert the files. Will the lockup issue be corrected if I d/l iTunes 5? Do I have to convert the files to stereo to correct the lockup?

Joe Bento October 1, 2005 at 12:53 pm

I have tried your hints and they work beautifully. What I am unable to accomplish, however, is merging a multi-CD audio book to one file. Is this possible? In the case of some of the Harry Potter unabridged audio books with upwards of 20 CD’s, this would be more convenient than having 20 listings for the multiple disks of one book.

Thanks! Joe

Jason October 1, 2005 at 8:57 pm

I found this thread/blog using a google search. I have a bit of an update regarding iTunes5. I had quite a few long mp3 audio book files that I was quite tired of having to scroll through to the last place I left off (using a sticky note on the back of the ipod where I would jot down the time). Using a combination of this thread, and a little experimentation, here’s the trick to make files bookmarkable. (OSX)

Take your long mp3 files, import it into iTunes5. In the preferences, advanced, importing, choose the pull down option “Spoken Podcast” for the “setting” (where you would normally choose bitrate and all that) (I tried doing this manually setting the settings and it didn’t work, only the pull down menu “Spoken Podcast” seemed to fly)

Now select your mp3 file, and choose “convert selection to AAC” from the “Advanced” menu. This will process the file, and convert it over to AAC format.

When it finishes, you now need to change the extension of the file. I did this by dragging a copy of the music out of iTunes to my desktop, then right clicking, “get info”, make sure “hide extensions” is not checked, then in the name field change the extension “.m4a” to “.m4b” The computer will ask you if you want to use the new extension, confirm that you want to change extensions.

I then delete (apple + Backspace) the AAC file still remaining in iTunes, and then drag back in your new extension changed file. For good measure I get info on the file from within iTunes, and check “remember playback position” but i don’t think this is necessary.

Now when you import this new AAC file into your iPod (I’m using nano), it will remember it’s playback position.

It sounds complicated when I type it out but it’s really quite simple. Bottom line: re-encode file using the “Spoken Podcast” setting. Rename extension from “.m4a” to “.m4b”, then import into ipod.

(if this is a duplicate post, sorry, my first submission gave me some kind of “forbidden” message) Oh, I forgot to mention, my ipod, even though allowing it to resume from where it left off, does not consider these to be audio books. It just treats them like a music file. So the speed selection has no effect.

Hope that helps everyone!

-Jason W

Amy October 13, 2005 at 2:41 pm

I am so happy to have stumbled onto all of your information!! I have a MAC and use iTunes, but unfortunately I do not have an iPod. Does anyone know if this works on other players? (I’m kind of a novice at this, so I just assumed it wouldn’t work because my player will only play basic *.mp3 extentions.)

Reginald October 24, 2005 at 2:22 pm

hey guys for some reason im trying to put my audio books onto my ipod but when i do its out of order. Im actually trying to put on the harry potter series but if i put all the books on there it gets all jumbled up. Is there anyway for me to just do it like i do my photos like selecting which files i want to be put onto my ipod? even if i put one of the books on my ipod it gets mixed up…its not an extreme mix up but it will be somthing like a few mixed here and a few mixed up tehre if anyone has the solution for my problem that would be gr8 email me at rleun048@uottawa.ca

Karl Junker October 25, 2005 at 4:15 am

“Remember playback position”

With iTunes 5.9 and later, there is no longer a need to convert .mp3 files to .aac or .m4a or .m4b (as described above). Simply click on the .mp3 file which you would like to make bookmarkable in iTunes (File - Get Info (Ctrl-i shortcut) - Options tab - tick “remember playback position). This will do the trick.

Unfortunately you have to do this individually for each .mp3 file you want to make bookmarkable, but it will do the job.

Alderete October 26, 2005 at 10:21 pm

Karl: Yes, the “Remember playback position” checkbox should make most MP3 (and AAC, etc.) files bookmarkable. However, it won’t make them show up in the Audiobooks top-level item in the iPod interface. For whatever, reason, iTunes and the iPod have a very specific idea of what a “real” audiobook is, and it’s gotta be a .aa or a .m4b file.

You can still get to your audiobooks via the Genres item, and then going to the Audiobook genre. If that’s good enough for you, then you can simplify this process quite a bit.

Alderete October 26, 2005 at 10:26 pm

Reginald: I’ve had a few instances where my wife would follow the steps, and end up with one or two tracks which would be out of order. In all cases, it turned out to be either a typo (usually an extra space) in the track name/title, or an error in the track or disc number sequence. In other words, human / data entry error.

You should be able to check the track titles visually (enter the name of the book in the iTunes search box to winnow down to just the book’s tracks).

To check the track or disc sequence, open the Get Info window on the first track, and then click the Next button repeatedly to scan through all of the tracks. Watch both the track and disc number fields in the Get Info window; they should be in sync with your track titles (the “02/13” numbering part of the title, that is).

Carleen November 3, 2005 at 7:46 am

I have been reading your website and it seems really helpful, but I am stumped as to what to do in my situation. I have 7 audiobooks that I have in my ipod in the mp3 format and want to make them audiobook to get them out of my music list, as you can understand how much room they take up on the scroll down. Is there a way to convert them as they are already downloaded, or do I need to erase and do it over again to get them into the m4b format? Please help.

Alderete November 3, 2005 at 8:12 am

Carleen: I think, but am not certain, that if you open the Get Info box for those tracks in iTunes (be sure you’re using iTunes 5 or 6), and change three things, it might get the tracks out of your music lists:

  • In the Info tab, change the Genre to “Audiobook”.
  • In the Options tab, make sure the “Remember playback position” and “Skip when shuffling” options are checked.

Unfortunately, you can only set the Genre for all tracks at once in the Multiple Song Info version of the Get Info window; for the options items, you need to select the first track, choose Get Info, make the changes, and click the Next button, to work your way through all the tracks. Tedious, but it does go quickly.

Please let me know if this works for you!

Tom November 3, 2005 at 10:40 am

Nice topic. I haven’t tried audiobooks yet, but I’m curious about how ‘big’ a book would fit on my iPod mini? Or, if I want to use it for listening to ‘books on CD’, how many MB would each CD use? Does iTunes give you any way to see how many MB the download file is before you do it?

Thanks, Tom

NanoUser November 3, 2005 at 5:24 pm

How do i transfer audio books from ipod nano to computer? All the information I saw was for transfering the audio books to nano.

Alderete November 3, 2005 at 7:33 pm

Tom: On my system I have both audiobooks I’ve downloaded from Audible.com, and books I’ve imported myself. In both cases, they are recorded in 32kbps mono. An 8 hour book in Audible.com’s proprietary .aa format takes up about 110 megabytes of disk space, or just under 14 megs per hour of content.

For the books I’ve imported myself in AAC format, using the settings described above, The Maltese Falcon takes 103 megs for a little over 7 hours, which comes in at a little over 14 megs per hour of content, about half a megabyte more per hour. But I also perceive a noticeable improvement in the audio quality, too.

NanoUser: How did you get the audiobook onto your Nano in the first place? Don’t you already have it on a computer somewhere?

In any case, there are utilities which can copy the tracks off of an iPod and onto your computer. I haven’t used one, so I can’t recommend anything, but I found a dozen searching for “iPod” on VersionTracker just now. Here are a couple names: XPod, Escape Pod, iPodRip, iPody, PodWorks, etc…

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