While purchasing Audible books from iTunes is blissfully seamless, getting physical CD audiobooks into iTunes and onto an iPod is not. When you rip an audiobook with iTunes, iTunes treats the files like music. This means hundreds of audio tracks littering your music library and the annoyance of finding that iTunes refuses to place the tracks into the dedicated Audiobook sub-directory.
Splasm Software's informatively named Audiobook Builder solves these annoyances. Audiobook Builder merges audio files together and joins them into a single iPod friendly audiobook file (.m4b). This process accomplishes several things, including consolidating the book into a single file, creating chapter markers, placing the home-brewed file into the Audiobook sub-directory, and making the file bookmarkable (iTunes/iPod will remember and save your place for easy resuming).
While Audiobook Builder was designed to be easy enough for novices to use, the application packs enough neat tricks to satisfy the digerati. For example, a beginner starting a new project can simply choose one of the built-in presets, while advance users can tweak the quality settings as they please–there are a plethora of audio options for the audiophile.
There are three options for importing audio into Audiobook Builder. Audiobook Builder can either use audio files you've previously ripped, grab tracks directly from iTunes, or rip a CD directly from within the application. Chapter markers are automatically created, but once tracks are imported, the name, position, and album artwork of individual chapter markers can be fully altered and adapted to your preference.
Adding metadata like the book title, author, and album art complete the process. With a click of the “Build button in the Finish module, Audiobook Builder does it's mojo and automatically adds the shiny new iPod friendly file into iTunes.
While an overall satisfying experience, Audiobook Builder has a few rough edges worth mentioning. For example, the darker unified window shade in Leopard 10.5 render some elements of the Audiobook Builder interface ineligible (the “Drag Cover Artwork Here droplet is a glaring example). Also, apparently due to a limitation of iPods, files created by Audiobook Builder are limited to 12 hours. Fans of longer books will have to deal with the inconvenience of multiple files for a single book–my copy of War and Peace came out to 6 separate audio files. Control over the precise point of division would be a welcomed addition in a future update. Currently, the severance is automated and often occurs at narratively unfriendly spots.
If you adore listening to audiobooks, but loathe the clutter they create upon digitization, then Audiobook Builder is the ideal tool for you. Although a few free utilities and scripts can be utilized to accomplish the same result, Audiobook Builder costs less than a paperback. The application is such a seamless experience that Audiobook Builder is worth the nominal cost.