Playing with ipod and audiobooks

So you have an ipod and you have audiobooks. Me to. As i talked about erlier i listen to a lot of audiobooks and I am using audible for a lot of the books. So i have just listen to Larry Niven’s and Edward M. Lerner’s new book Fleet of Worlds. Great book. So it reborn my interest in the Known world SF and the Ringworld books. I did listen to the Ringworld and the other books years back and I have all the Ringworld books on tape. Not easily transferable to my ipod. So what to do. Well i usually don’t download stuff from piratebay and other torrent sites like that. But as I have the tapes and payed for it I don’t think its totally unfair to have it transfered to mp3’s.

So I downloaded it and have a nice mp3 set of the books – 70 files of it. Not ideal. I could ofcourse transfer them and make a playlist, but thats not ideal. One can use audacity to merge all the files to one big mp3. That would work to. But there are a problem with that to.

All my normal audiobooks is under the audiobook menu in the ipod. When transferring a audible book (.aa) file it pops up there. And transferring a .mp3 file it will go to the normal list of music. A mp3 will also start to play from the beginning when you go back to it. For podcast it remembers the place where you left of from playing and the same goes for an audiobook.

Checking a bit I found out that to have the ipod recognize the file as an audiobook as has to be an AAC encoded mp4 file (.m4a) file and that the filename has to be .m4b.


AAC or Advanced Audio Coding, is a MPEG (Motion Pictures Experts Group) audio standard first adopted as part of the MPEG-2 family of standards. The best known example of this is Apple’s iTunes online store and software. iTunes AAC files are stored in the standard MP4 container, but generally with an extention of .M4A to denote that they only contain audio.

The audiobooks is a normal m4a file but just renamed to m4b. So we need to convert the file. This can be done with mpg123 and faac. So we download and install them.

Now we can use mpg123 to play the files and pipe it to faac to convert it. This files I have for the ringworld book is normal mp3 files – MPEG 1.0 layer III, 128 kbits/s, 44100 Hz joint-stereo files. So we can convert them with the standard commands:

This works nicely and create a big file (460mb), bu in all workable on the ipod. So i started to do the same for the Ringwold Engeneer – book 2 in the Ringworld series and it is playing like on 4 times the speed. Annoying. It seems that the files are 22khx mono files and that faac or mpg123 is not making the conversation right.

So i found another tool  – MP3 to iPod Audio Book Converter – and its free but runs under windows – well actually if you look under the hood and gt the source you can se that it seems to be a java program, but I downloaded the installer from here, and tested it under wine and it works perfectly. It creates m4b files. It handles my 22 khz mono files right. It is graphical – kind of OK – but not really needed, and it has a built in ID tag editor. So thats what i’m using now.

When you run the instaler it installs it and created a meny item in Wine -> Programs -> MP3 to iPod Audio Book Converter ->  MP3 to iPod Audio Book Converter and you can run it from there.

Ipod and homemade m4b

There are problems with homemade m4b files, and it seems that when the ipod goes into sleep mode and you press play again to wake it up and press play again to start the load of the 460 mb file takes to long time and it fails and goes back to the main menu. It seems like its timing out.

I have noticed that all the audible files is max 100 mb large and if the files gets bigger they divide it into multiple parts. Can that be a trick to use. I reencoded my ringworld file into 4 parts and now its seems to play ok.

6 thoughts on “Playing with ipod and audiobooks

  1. Bad apple, bad… They made you merge and convert perfectly good mp3 tracks into aac and then brake them apart again!? Does rockbox run on your ipod?

  2. I dont have an ipad to test on but i would guess so.

    If you read my entry here about converting audible files to ipod there is a small utility that I use in the end (MP4Box) to interlace the files to itunes standard that can help you get them even better info the ipod and perhaps the ipad.

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