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I received an audiobook on CDs for Christmas--"Hollywood Moon" by Joseph Wambaugh--and I'd like to convert it for use on my iPod. How do I do that?

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If you want to convert the CD to the Apple audiobook format, you can rip the tracks to MP3 then use the MP3 to iPod Audio Book Converter to do so. It means you can jump out and then come back, and it will maintain your place in the track.

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If we are just talking about a normal music CD like all the audiobooks I have here, your best bet is simply to import it into Itunes like you would any other CD then sync it across to your Ipod.

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and dont forget to set the type of the files (select them in your itunes library and then open the information panel on them) to "audiobook"... – akira Jan 5 '10 at 5:53

I assume that you want to make a .m4b file from the set of cd's, so that your ipod treats the file like a single book. Since I've no idea which OS you're using, I'll give instructions for windows, OSX, and Linux.

The nice bit is that m4a files and m4b files are the same format; m4a files are assumed to be music and m4b files are assumed to be audiobooks. As such, you can convert between the two formats by changing the file extension.

If you don't mind having a ton of smaller files (some people may even prefer it), you can rip the tracks from the cds as .m4a files, then change the extension of those files to .m4b. You can call this the "easy" way.

The method that I prefer is actually a pain in the neck. First, rip the tracks from the cd as mp3s, then use mp3wrap to join them into one big mp3 file. Next, use iTunes to convert the audiobook to .m4a format (by adding the file to the library, right-clicking it, and selecting "create aac version"), and finally, change the extension of the audiobook to .m4b. This method can be used by windows and OSX.

If you're on linux, as usual, everything is a little harder. You can use mp3wrap to join the tracks, but you can't use itunes to re-encode. This site tells you to use mplayer to create a pcm dump of the big mp3 file, then re-encode it with ffmpeg. I prefer to open the big mp3 file in audacity and export it as ffmpeg. Either way works.

Of course, mp3wrap is essential in this process, and should be available for windows, OSX, and linux. (I've only used the windows and linux flavors). Try here for linux and windows verions, and here for OSX versions. Ideally, there would be a way to join .m4a files. if you know one, please share :).

Now, for some common problems. Mp3wrap does not recognize some id3v2 tags. If you experience a periodic "squeal" in your big mp3 file, strip the id3 tags. There is a bug with audiobooks, especially on ipod videos (5g), where if the duration of the m4b file is incorrectly reported, the ipod to crash and restart upon playing the book. If this becomes an issue, try a different method of encoding the file. Finally, if you're using itunes, note that when you change the file extension of a song in the library, iTunes will want to know where the audio file went. If you tell itunes where it is (via the dialog box), the files will not be treated as audiobooks. I recommend removing them from the music library instead.

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2 lossy conversions? i know you won't generally notice on audiobooks, but still.... ick. – quack quixote Jan 5 '10 at 8:10

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