Saturday, June 16, 2007

Convert Standard AudioBooks Into Ipod Audiobook with Bookmarks

I use my Ipod to listen to audiobooks, but always have had trouble with audiobooks I get from non-Itunes places. The problem with importing non-Itunes audiobooks into Itunes is that Itunes won't mark your audiobook with bookmarks so when you stop at a certain point in the book, listen to some music and then come back to the audiobook, it doesn't save your place. Only audiobooks purchased from Itunes are bookmarkable - most audiobooks obtained from other sources are treated as music file in itunes. This tutorial is to take a CD or mp3 audiobook and make it bookmarkable for use in an ipod. You can easily convert any audio files to the Itunes audiobook format two different ways.
Converting a CD to a mp3

If you want to take an audiobook you own on CD and convert it to an ipod audiobook, you will need to rip the CD. There are two methods of doing that. I use Cdex which is the easier method described in this how-to. Another method is to use exact audio copy explained here.


AUTOMATED METHOD using "MP3 to Ipod Audiobook Converter" program:
The first way is using the mp3 to audiobook converter by freeipodsoftware. This is a mostly automated method that works well. It does decreases the quality & file size some and isn't customizable so I'll still mention the manual method as well.

  1. Download the program at
  2. Start the program and click on the "add" button. Select each of the files you want to merge and convert into a single file
  3. Click "start conversion"
  4. Name the new m4b file and select the folder to save it to.
  5. Wait for it to finish - a progress indicator will tell you how much time has elapsed, time remaining and the size of the resulting file.

Now you just open Itunes and import the new m4b file and your done. Quick and easy.

The manual method is one I've used for several years. It is fully customizable and is done with a few simple steps.

1. Prepare Itunes for the Import

  • In Itunes, go to Edit > Preferences > Advanced
  • Choose the importing tab and change import to "AAC Encoder"
  • Click the down arrow and select custom.
  • In the AAC Encoder window, choose somewhere around 16 & 48 kbs - uses 32kbps so that would be a good selection.
  • Set the Sample rate as "auto" and channels to "stereo" and select
  • Uncheck "play while importing"
  • Create filenames
  • Use error correction
  • Click ok

2. Merge multiple MP3 files into a larger MP3

When you rip an audiobook CD or download a mp3 audiobook, it will be in multiple files. It is easier to manage one or just a few files - this way you don't need to remember which file you are listening to. Just remember not to make the resulting file any larger than 320MB or longer than 5 hours. Otherwise you could end up with playback problems in your ipod.

To merge the files into one or more larger mp3 "chunks" use mp3merge

  • Open MP3 Merger
  • Click on add files button & a window with "select files to merge" will open
  • Browse to and select your mp3 files that you want to merge
  • Click the open button in mp3merger
  • Click on Sort button
  • Change MP3merger output file name
  • Click on merge files button
  • Click on remove all button and repeat steps for all files you want to merge
  • Now using windows explorer, rename your files in a numbered format such as 0001TomClancy, 0002TomClancy etc. This will ensure that the tracks load into itunes in the proper order when you have multiple tracks in one audiobook.

3. Import the MP3 File Into Itunes

In Itunes, add each of the new mp3 files to itunes:
  • Add the file (or folder) to the Itunes Library
  • Convert each newly imported mp3 file to AAC - select the file (s), right-click, and select “Convert Selection to AAC“.
  • Once the conversion is complete, remove the original mp3 files from your library. They will no longer be needed for this process.
  • Also remove the newly created files from your library (NOT from your disc), but when you are asked, be sure to select “Keep Files“, so they are not deleted off your hard drive.
4. Rename the AAC files from m4a to m4b - To make the new AAC files bookmarkable, you will need to rename each of them to m4b
  • Open Windows Explorer
  • In Windows Explorer you should find the files in My Documents\My Music\Itunes\Itunes Music, right click the AAC file in the library and open folder
  • In the folder rename each of the files m4b (from m4a)
5. Add m4b file to Itunes
  • In Windows Explorer, double click each file to add the m4b files to Itunes.
  • In Itunes you can right-click on the new files and select “Get Info“. Update the name, genre and artist to whatever you want - I usually clear the artist and lable the genre as audiobook
  • Now add the files to your ipod when ready.
You now have a bookmarkable audiobook in your ipod that won't be included with your music when you the ipod is in shuffle mode.
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