If you listen to Audiobooks on your iPod or in iTunes, then you know how great the Bookmarking feature is. You listen to an hour of your book and then switch to your favorite tunes. Then you come back to the book and it remembers right where you left off. That’s the way it should always work. [UPDATE] Simon commented below that the latest iTunes will let you book mark any files. I haven’t tried it, but it sounds promising! That wouldn’t necessarily negate your need to turn 100’s of files into an audiobook format just for ease of use and organization, but it might give you other options.
Once you’ve experienced bookmarking, it’s really hard to listen to a book that you ripped from CD’s and it comes out with 50 or more files. I’ve even had some that had tracs every 2 or 3 minutes. When they do that, you can get 100’s of files on a long book. Nobody can keep track of where they left off like that. The answer is to convert them from MP3 or AAC (depending on your importing preference) to the Audiobook format (.m4b).
Converting MP3 or AAC to Audiobook Format
If you’re on a Mac, Doug Scripts provides a free application that uses AppleScript, iTunes, and QuickTime to join your files and convert them to Audiobook format. It absolutely rocks. Here are the simple steps:
- Make sure you’re up to date with the latest versions of iTunes and QuickTime.
- Use System Preferences -> Software Update to check
- Download Join Together by DougScripts and follow the install directions (drag file to Applications folder just like most Mac apps)
- Consider breaking your audiobook into 2 or 3 big sections. Audible.com does this to make your downloads go smoother, but there might also be some issues in playing back huge files. So sections that would represent 5 or 6 discs of audio are best.
- To break a book into sections, create Playlists and move in the tracks that you want in that section
- The order is important, so keep them straight.
- Select the playlist in iTunes (you’ll repeat from this step forward for each section you break your book into)
- Open Join Together and click Get Tracks from iTunes. This will pull in the track names that you have in your playlist.
- Choose the settings you want for your final file:
- Name – give it a name for the track
- Artist and Album are optional like the rest of the tags, but they are good ones to fill in
- Genre: Audiobooks
- Check “Remember playback position”
- Track Number: 1 of 1
- Disc number: optional
- Data Rate: 64kbps is pretty good for audiobooks
- Channels: Stereo
- Sample Rate: 44.100 kHz
- Save as: .m4b (this is an important one…it distinguishes an Audiobook in iTunes)
- Chapterize: check it
- “Use artwork in chapter list”: optional
- Save work files: leave unchecked.
- Click Proceed and sit back.
- Repeat from step 4 for each section you broke you book into…selecting the next section playlist each time
First, Join Together will open up all of the tracks in QuickTime and start copying them into a single track. Next it will start exporting the final track. This can take a long time…maybe an hour or two depending on how many tracks and how fast your machine.
After it’s done, you will see your new book in the Audiobooks tab in iTunes. It’s not a hard process, and it doesn’t take a lot of work your part. It can take a lot of processing time, but it’s really worth it in the end.
Three cheers to DougScripts for the fantastic Join Together app that makes this so easy!