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iPod Audiobooks

Monday, January 16th, 2012

ipod audiobookI've owned an MP3 player for many years. My first one was a Dell Digital Jukebox back around 2002. I had a few of those because they kept breaking and Dell kept replacing them. Then Dell got out of the portable music player business and stopped making them. When I finally wore out my last Dell DJ, Rachelle got me a Creative Zen Vision:M. I loved this player and used it for many years. Sadly, it started acting stupid recently so I figured it was time for a new one. I did some research and found that an Apple iPod was probably my best option. I was conflicted about this; I am the opposite of an Apple fanboy and I really don't like iTunes, but I figured I could give it a try. Rachelle got me a 7th generation 160GB iPod Classic for Christmas and so far I've been very happy with it.

I spend a lot of my time listening to audiobooks. IPods have special functionality for audiobooks so I was rather excited when I found this out. Audiobooks can be separated from the music library and not included in randomized music play. They also have a resume feature where you can come back to the exact point you were at if you go listen to something else. They also support chapters so you can easily skip around. This is the best considering how much it sucks to fast forward though a book that can be 30+ hours long.

These features are perfect for me, except I'm having a big problem getting my current audiobooks into the format required to take advantage of these features. All my audiobooks are in multiple .mp3 files. I can put these on the iPod as-is, but it'll treat each part as it's own book. What I really need is to convert all the .mp3 files into one big chaptered .m4b file. There are tons of tools to join mp3s into an m4b out there, but inserting chapter breaks is the tough part. There doesn't seem to be any free windows software out there that actually works to do it. I'd even be willing to pay (a little) for software that works, but all the ones I found seem to be Apple software and won't run on Windows.

I found a free Java-based tool called ID3v2ChapterTool that supposedly can add ID3 chapters to media files but the resulting files were never recognized or imported by iTunes. Maybe I wasn't using it correctly, who knows. I was assuming Apple used chapter support in ID3 tags embedded in the media files for chapters...but maybe they use some other proprietary means of doing it. My next try is going to be installing Mac OSX in a virtual machine on my Windows desktop to try running one of the Mac tools for creating chapters.

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