iTunes 8 is great for audiobook lovers

by Michael Alderete on 9/11/2008 · 23 comments

The number one question I receive from visitors to Aldo on Audiobooks is How do I get my audiobooks to show up in the Audiobooks section of iTunes and my iPod/iPhone? With the release of iTunes 8, I can replace hundreds of (a thousand?) words with a single screen shot:

iTunes track info options panel

Well, maybe a few words are still in order. Here’s the new process, which will work every time:

  1. Import your audiobook using your favorite process, in your favorite audio format. (I’ve written detailed instructions for both standard Audio CD audiobooks and for MP3 CD audiobooks.)
  2. Select the imported track(s) in iTunes, and choose File > Get Info, and then click on the Options tab, to get to the Track Info Options panel.
  3. From the Media Kind pop-up menu, choose “Audiobook”.
  4. Check the Remember playback position and Skip when shuffling options.
  5. Click the OK button.

From now on, iTunes, iPods, and iPhones will all treat the track(s) as full audiobooks, including remembering playback position automatically (saving your “bookmark”), skipping the track when you’re playing a random shuffle of music, and allowing you to speed up or slow down playback with the Settings > Audiobooks speed options on your iPod or iPhone.

Note: When you make the above changes, the audiobook track(s) will be moved from the Music source list to the Audiobooks source list. If you haven’t enabled the Audiobooks list, it will seem as though your tracks have disappeared. See Optimal iTunes Import Settings for Audiobooks for more details of enabling the Audiobooks source list.

If you’re interested in more of the details of what’s new in iTunes 8, I suggest iLounge’s Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iTunes 8 as the best and most detailed guide I’ve seen.

Brian Hawthorne September 11, 2008 at 8:29 pm

Thanks, this is great! In fact, if you select multiple items, that “Media Kind” menu includes Music, Movie, TV Show, Audio Book and Music Video.

It will not, however, let me move old downloaded podcast files into a Podcast.

Any idea how to do that? I have some older episodes that I downloaded outside of iTunes, and now can’t get them to show up in the Podcasts.

Donna Ford September 12, 2008 at 9:18 am

Haven’t seen anything from you in ages!

Glad to have reassurance on iTunes 8; I just got the nerve to load 7.7 and so far so good. Will we be OK using both a 2nd gen and 3rd gen nano on 8? Since the debacle of not so long ago I get very nervous loading something ALL NEW from Apple. LOL

Any comments on the new nano? Like fashion things return do they not? I’m not sure at all about the vertically taller screen for us book lovers. Donna in AR

Paul W September 13, 2008 at 1:08 pm

When I move my audiobook tracks into the AUDIOBOOKS menu, the tracks are listed in my iPod alphabetically and are mixed with other audiobook files (e.g. all files called Chapter 2 are together). Is there a way to create a folder hierarchy as in the MUSIC file menu so that all audiobook files are grouped by author, then by book, then by track?

Calroo September 16, 2008 at 6:52 am

I have done this and am unsure how to now get them from the Playlist folder to the Library folder and then audiobooks. I have tried dragging it but to no avail. Also when I returned to make sure I have done it correctly, under options it has returned to music from audiobook.

Alderete September 16, 2008 at 7:45 am

@Paul W: First of all, playlists work everywhere, so as a last resort, you can always make a playlist for each book.

Second, if you’ve set the Album field to the book’s title, then when you go into the Audiobooks section on your iPod or iPhone, all of the tracks for that book should be grouped together, under a single item for the book. Be sure to set the Album to exactly the same thing for all tracks; using the Multiple Item Information dialog is the easiest way to do this. (Select all of the tracks, then File > Get Info.)

Finally, I would recommend against setting the Name field to something generic like “Chapter 2”. Instead, try “Book Title, Ch. 2” or “Book Title 02”. That will ensure that your tracks are grouped and sorted correctly, everywhere.

Ariel September 17, 2008 at 6:31 pm

I’m having the same problem as Paul W. The problem doesn’t have to do with how the titles are named, since prior to iTunes 8, I had my audiobooks in my Music as albums, and they sorted properly. The title of the book is the “Album Title” and the chapter title is the “Track Title.” None of my chapters are named “Chapter 1” but now that I’ve reset the Media Type to Audiobook (as in your instructions above) the books are interfiling in alphabetical order by chapter name on the iPod regardless of the book title or the track number. In iTunes, the tracks sort properly (in order based on track number and grouped by book), and when the iPod is connected to the computer and I look at the grayed out tracks, they’re sorting properly there as well. It’s just on the iPod itself that the sort is alphabetical by chapter title. This must be a bug with iTunes 8 when you reset the media type to “audiobook”. It also doesn’t seem to appear that switching the media back to “music” is an option since when I did that, the tracks didn’t move back to my Music library, but stayed in my Audiobooks library. Any thoughts or is this something we need to bring up with Apple?

Lynne September 18, 2008 at 9:00 pm

Ditto! I’m thrilled to find that I can get all my Audiobooks into the Audiobooks Section of my iPod. But it’s quite nasty to have every single track listed and not only that, but sorted incorrectly. Can you imagine - I just downloaded my Harry Potter 7 CDs - that’s over 100 tracks that would have to be renamed to get them to sort properly! I’ve got The Count of Monte Cristo listed after all the Harry Potter chapters separating them from the 3 Epilogues besides the fact that the chapters are out of order because chapters 1-3 are not listed as 01, 02, and 03. I just want ONE Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows listed - not 100+!

Lynne September 18, 2008 at 9:02 pm

My mistake - that’s 305 tracks! For ONE book!

tracey September 26, 2008 at 2:41 pm

after you put the disc into the computer and it says “Import”?, say “no.” then select all (alt-e followed by a); then do alt-a followed by j to join the tracks. once it’s imported, you should only have one big track per disc and you can go back and tag as an audiobook, gapless, etc. does that help?

Rebecca September 27, 2008 at 5:45 am

I was so excited by the new “audiobook” feature! It now puts my audiobooks in the right audiobook folder in iTunes, and in the right audiobook folder on my iPod when seen on iTunes, BUT when I go to actually USE my iPod, the tracks have been placed in the MUSIC FOLDER! Help?!

foamy September 28, 2008 at 3:18 pm

i have some really long books and on 7 gb of space is there some way to not transfer what you have already listened to

Heather September 29, 2008 at 6:22 pm

What do I do if the tracks are in order on iTunes but not on my iPod, and I have to keep changing the track because it will only play one track at a time?

julia September 30, 2008 at 7:06 pm

ok so i did that to a radio intervew that i had and i no longer want it on my ipod but i cant find it on my itunes. but everytime i update my ipod it says missing would u like to locate it? is there any way to view the audiobooks section under the library title on itunes? or a way to undo making it into an audiobook? i guess that would be kinda hard to do if i cant find it on itunes. thanks

KSB Snow Owl October 1, 2008 at 12:37 pm

So, I just did what was mentioned in the main article, and it did transfer the one audio book I’ve got (ripped from CD) to an audiobook, but now I cannot find it within iTunes. There is no “Audiobook” section in the library, and I cannot find it under music. How can I find it within iTunes so I can work at renaming the tracks? Currently, all my tracks are in order, but all are listed as their track number on their individual CD’s (ie - “3 of 286” is the title of track 3 from the first disc, and the second disc, and the third, etc.) There are 286 total tracks.

liam October 4, 2008 at 5:07 pm

This website was very helpful to me, thank you!

Coupla questions about doing this with iTunes 8:

Should you still “Join CD Tracks?” Or does selecting “Audiobook” as Media take care of this too?

And while I still see in Get Info: “Remember Playback Position” and “Skip When Shuffling,” I assume that the fact that it’s now in Audiobooks means that these checkboxes would be redundant. Am I right?

Thanks!!

Liam K

liam October 4, 2008 at 5:11 pm

Oh, and also ….

Each disc is showing up as another book. Is there a way to get these all under one book? When I’ve purchased books from Apple, this is fine. When loading a 7 CD book, it shows up as 7 books. I can get through this, but it’s clumsy and I feel sure there’s a workaround for this problem?

Alderete October 5, 2008 at 7:55 am

@liam: Selecting “Audiobook” doesn’t merge tracks together, though it may cause your iPod or iPhone to treat the tracks differently when in list views — but only if you’ve correctly set your metadata for all tracks.

Selecting “Audiobook” automatically checks the “Remember” and “Skip” options, and also disables those options (grays them out). These settings are automatic and not optional for audiobooks.

As for “all under one book,” you’ll want to check this post out: “How to join multiple tracks into a single audiobook file”:http://aldoblog.com/2008/01/how-to-join-multiple-tracks-into-a-single-audiobook-file/

Alderete October 5, 2008 at 8:16 am

@Lynne: It sounds like you might want to review my “instructions for importing audiobooks from standard audio CDs”:http://aldoblog.com/audiobooks/itunes/importing-audio-cds/, which describes the process used to join together CD tracks, so you don’t end up with hundreds, but as few as one per CD. You can also check out the article I reference above, which describes tools that will let you merge your tracks even further (most of my audiobooks are one or two tracks, with chapter marks).

Alderete October 5, 2008 at 8:23 am

@foamy: You want to review this article: “Managing audiobooks on a small-capacity iPod”:http://aldoblog.com/2008/02/managing-audiobooks-on-ipod-or-iphone/, which describes exactly the task you want.

Alderete October 5, 2008 at 8:28 am

@Heather: For your order issues, see “FAQ #16”:http://aldoblog.com/audiobooks/itunes/frequently-asked-questions/#q16. For the playing back only one track at a time, generally an iPod will play all of the tracks in the list that was showing when you started playback. But the behavior varies across models and software versions. The surest way to solve both of these issues at once is to create a playlist with your audiobook’s tracks, in the right order, and then use the playlist to start playback. You should be able to listen to the book in order with no problems then.

Alternatively, you might want to merge the tracks, and create a 1-2 track audiobook, which will avoid all of the iPod’s playback quirks. See “How to join multiple tracks into a single audiobook file”:http://aldoblog.com/2008/01/how-to-join-multiple-tracks-into-a-single-audiobook-file/ which describes tools for both Windows and Mac for accomplishing this task.

Alderete October 5, 2008 at 8:30 am

@KSB Snow Owl: To see the Audiobooks source list in iTunes, you need to enable it. In iTunes 8 it’s a checkbox in the General section of the preferences. Make sure it’s checked, then you’ll see it in the sidebar.

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