Audiobook Builder: Build Audiobooks for your iPod

IconWhile 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).

Screenshot

The main working space of Audiobook Builder.

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.

Screenshot

Novices can choose the presets, while advance users can choose different formats and quality settings.

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.

Screenshot

The end result in iTunes (left) and on an iPod (right). Note the proper location, consolidated file, & chapter markers.

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.

Audiobook Builder costs $9.95 and can be purchased from Splasm Software.

Comments

14 Responses to “Audiobook Builder: Build Audiobooks for your iPod”

  1. Tao on February 13th, 2008 6:12 am

    That looks very helpful.

    For the early communter and all day computer worker, audio books are a godsend to while away the hour journey home on the train.

    I did all the Harry Potter books and Golden Compass series this way!

  2. Gabraham-Himself on February 13th, 2008 7:48 am

    I still don’t get why Apple missed to include a “This is an audiobook I’m ripping right now”-function into iTunes. It would make things so much easier.

  3. Tao on February 13th, 2008 8:00 am

    Maybe the part when it scans MP3s and ripped files for “gapless” playback – it could do it then!

  4. Silla on February 13th, 2008 8:47 am

    This is exactly what I need! I’ve got tons of audiobook files mixed in with my music, and it’s difficult to find them. It’s also annoying when your iPod is set to shuffle and it suddenly starts playing an audiobook chapter ^_^’

  5. Dan on February 13th, 2008 9:46 am

    This is cool, though you could do a lot of this stuff for free with an automator workflow.

  6. J Dott on February 13th, 2008 12:34 pm

    I’ve been using Audiobook Builder for several months and love it. It does do a great job with audiobooks on CD, but it can also turn free audiobooks from librivox.org into iTunes books. Very useful.

  7. Adam Teece on February 14th, 2008 12:34 am

    I think it is a really great tool. I love buying audio books but I usually like to listen to them faster to absorb more info. So I convert the cds into iPod audio books and listen to them at the faster speed setting.

  8. Software Spotlight: Audiobook Builder on February 14th, 2008 2:39 pm

    [...] MacApper has a full review of Audiobook Builder. You can click here to try it out – a full license costs $9.95. [...]

  9. Van Lam on February 14th, 2008 8:16 pm

    Good point about the variable speed settings, normal music files don’t have that option.

  10. Chris on April 9th, 2008 11:25 pm

    With emusic doing audiobook downloads with +/- 200 individual mp3 files, this app has made life a WHOLE lot easier. For ten bucks, I’ve made managing an already enormous iTunes library much simpler. It takes a while to do its thing, even on my MBPro, but it doesn’t eat a lot of memory while it works. My only gripe is that every once in a while (one time in twenty or so), I have to remake an audiobook because it garbles at a chapter head. This is minor, however, otherwise I highly recommend it to any audiobook lovers.

  11. AJ on February 25th, 2009 4:51 pm

    You can also just rip or add the audiobook mp3 file to your library, click convert to AAC in itunes, and after it is done, go to the converted file and change the extension from .m4a to .m4b. Then you can add it to your audiobook category.

    It doesn’t do the chapters, which is what I am looking for, but…easier than getting new software if that’s all you want.

  12. Phyllis on October 2nd, 2009 10:44 am

    I am having a problem with listening to audiobook builder built audio book. I am listening to “Shannon”, a long book. I ripped the CDs into itunes. Audiobuilder divided the book into 2 parts. I am listening to part 1. I listened to some, then stopped. The bookmark was there when I went back. My problem was I missed a bit and wanted to replay the last few minutes. The audio book went back to the beginning, and I could not then find my place. Very frustrating. How can I put in stops, so it will not go back to the beginning of the book or part of book?

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