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Importing MP3 audiobooks into iTunes

by Michael Alderete on 8/29/2005 · 15 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Note: These instructions have been superceded by a new version available in the Aldo on Audiobooks section of this site.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.

Our preferred method for obtaining audiobooks is from Audible.com, as part of our monthly subscription. For about $11 each, we receive an electronic-only version of a book, broken in to manageable chunks of 5-6 hours long each. The files arrive pre-encoded in a format which is bookmarkable in iTunes and on an iPod, and have all appropriate meta-data attached. The subscription format is both cost-effective and highly usable. Audible.com’s major liability is the selection; while there are thousands of books from which to choose, if you get interested in an author who has been writing for a while, chances are good Audible.com won’t have the older books, at least not yet.

The next best method for getting audiobooks is to borrow them on Audio CD from the local public library. While the procedure for importing them into iTunes is laborious, the price is right. This is an ideal way to experiment with authors you don’t know, to find books worth paying for. However, like Audible.com, the selection can be limited.

So, what do you do when you want a book that’s not available from either method?

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Note: These instructions have been superceded by a new version available in the Aldo on Audiobooks section of this site.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

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