I have no idea what I'm doing.

Monday, January 4, 2010

MP3 to M4B: free, quick, and easy audiobook coversion for your iPhone

Maybe, maybe not.  Depends on your hardware.

Why M4B?
MP3 is nice for songs, but if you have a long audio book in MP3 form, it may be 10, 20, 30+ individual MP3 files.  M4B lumps them all in one.  M4A is similar to M4B, but it doesn't offer bookmarking(remembering playback location) which is a necessity when listening to a long audiobook.  Sure, in some instances an app will remember the playback location of both MP3 and M4A, but as the file size increase so does the chance loosing your location.   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M4b

So why not just throw everything in iTunes and use a playlist?
In my experience, the iPod app for the iPhone sucks.  Plan and simple.  Everytime I charge my iPhone via the computer's USB port, the iPhone looses it current playback location.  I've run into similar instances when syncinging.  So what the solution?  I've found an audiobook player app with some good features, and most importantly it doesn't loose it's playback location.  The app even supports background playback (the only non-Apple app I've come accross that does this).  The app is called Bookmark http://bookmarkapp.com/ , Bookmark Blog http://bookmarkapp.wordpress.com/

And now let's start with some apps that I've tried, but for one reason or another haven't had much success:
  • Audiobook Maker version 0.1b for Mac OSX - http://audiobookmaker.sourceforge.net/ - A free MP3 to AAC app.  For me, this app is hit and miss.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it crashes, and sometimes I just get the spinning beachball.  The good news is it's open source if anyone wants to pick it up, unfortunately the app was last updated Dec 03, 2005 (http://sourceforge.net/projects/audiobookmaker/files/).  Maybe it's incompatibilities with Snow Leopard, I don't know.
  • MP3 to iPod Audio Book Converter version 0.18 for Windows - http://freeipodsoftware.com/ - Another free all-in-one type app.  And again, it's hit and miss with conversions.  I tend to have better success when running it on XP, unfortunately most of my PCs have moved to Windows 7.  When running under Win 7 I tend to run into a Java error at the start of the conversion process. 
A successful 3-step process:
  1. MP3 files to M4A files - using Format Factory version 2.20 - http://www.formatoz.com/ - This free app converts all kinds kinds of media.  If you have a large number of files to convert it has a great queuing system.  Just drop them in the queue and let it crank away.  Out comes the M4A files.
  2. M4A files to a single chaptered M4B - using Chapter and Verse version - http://lodensoftware.com/chapter-and-verse/ - Another free app.  Creating the M4B is rather simple, just add the M4A files, make any necessary meta data changes (Author, Title, Album Art, etc), then click the Build Audiobook button.  Individual files are converted to chapter breaks in the single M4B file, but with the Bookmark app this isn't really neccessary.  
  3. Drop the M4B into iTunes and BAM!  your done.  If you don't want to use iTunes, you can use CopyTrans Manager http://www.copytrans.net/


  1. Chapter and Verse now accepts MP3 files and other audio files supported by iTunes. The audio files are automatically converted using iTunes in the background and then they are added to the audiobook project. C&V will also automatically add your audiobook to your iTunes library for a one step process... BAM!

  2. Thanks for the update Jeffrey! This app is looking better and better.

  3. If you want to Convert M4B to MP3, WAV, AIFF, FLAC, AAC, AC3, AU, WMA,there is a good method-Avdshare Audio Converter,you can have a try step by step at http://www.avdshare.com/m4b-converter-to-mp3-wav-aiff-flac-aac