iTunes: Setting up iPod AudioBooks

Ever wanted audiobooks you’ve personally ripped from CDs to show up properly in your iPod? It’s frustrating to lose your bookmark after playing other music, and it’s annoying to have audiobooks mixed among your favorite tunes. After some painstaking trial and error, I’ve found a way to fix them. This procedure has been tested on iTunes for Windows (v5.0.1.4 and v6.0.1.3) and iPod Photo 30GB v1.2. As always, I am not responsible for the use or the misuse of this information; use at your own risk.

  1. Set iTunes to import using AAC encoder, optimized for Spoken Podcasts. (I normally have mine set to MP3 at 160kbps for importing music.)
  2. View the CD in iTunes, but don’t import the tracks right away.
  3. Select all the tracks on the CD, and choose Join CD Tracks from the Advanced menu.
  4. Click the Import CD icon.
  5. Find the track in your library, and do a Get Info to verify the information. It is a good idea to use a naming convention that makes it easy to choose the right audiobook and the order of the audio CDs on the iPod, i.e. “Harry Potter Year 1 Disc 7”.
  6. Through My Computer or Windows Explorer, change the extension of the song from “.m4a” to “.m4b”.
  7. Go back to iTunes and attempt to play the song. When it tells you it can’t find the song, tell it to look for it, then select the filename with the new extension.
  8. An optional step, I recommend setting the Equalizer Preset for the track to Spoken Word (found under Get Info / Options).
  9. Repeat for the rest of the CDs of the audiobook.

Once you sync up, the audiobook CDs will be properly accessible through the Audiobooks menu on the iPod! Woohoo!

16 Responses to “iTunes: Setting up iPod AudioBooks”

  1. richard

    You could use some third-party application to stitch the files together into one, but I do not believe there is an iTunes-only method. – RDL

  2. becky

    Thank you so much, been searching for this info for a long time. Why don’t they make it more obvious?

  3. Anthony

    Thrilled to read of this wheeze and tried it out. I’ve got a lot of books already on there so I experimented with a couple, deleting them and then adding them the way you recommend. Brilliant – they appear in audiobooks and the pod remembers where it left off. But, I still have the titles in my albums folder. I’ve tried delting them in itunes, updating the pod, then [ripping] the CDs as you suggest but they still come up in my albums folder as well as audiobooks. Have you had this problem? Any ideas? Regards, Anthony

  4. richard

    Frankly, I don’t regard it as a problem. An audiobook IS an album. It makes sense to me that you could (for example) play Enya’s Amarantine by accessing the songs directly from a playlist, by choosing Enya and then the album, or by just choosing the album; in the same manner I should be able to access Jim Dale’s reading of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by selecting the audiobook, by choosing J.K. Rowling as the artist, or by just choosing the album. What’s the difference? – RDL

  5. Dianna

    Thank You! The prospect of 17 discs of un-bookmarked Harry Potter was bleak indeed.

  6. John Renfree

    I cannot figure how to change the .m4a extension to .m4b. I queried Microsoft XP, with no satisfactory answer. I am running iTunes 6.042. Windows XP 2002 Service pack 2, updated today.


    John Renfree

  7. Nancy

    Hi Richard,

    I have the same issue that Anthony does. I don’t have and issue seeing them there, but the problem I am having is when I’m listening to my entire Music track, on Shuffle, it still plays the Audiobooks. I thought by selecting Shuffle it shouldn’t, but it does.

    Any suggestions how to not have the books play while I just want to hear only my entire music collection? Yes I know I could just remove them for a bit, but who knows when I might want to listen to a book.

    Any suggestions or help would be wonderful.

    Thank you,


  8. Byron

    I have used “MP3Merge” to stitch MP3 files together that are already on my computer. It is a free utility and is a small download. I have also have the problem of having my audiobook files play when randomizing my songs. In the options section there is a checkbox that says “skip when shuffling and remember playback position.” Does not seem to work. Also if the audiofile is really huge, then there are some real issues with remembering where you left off. One other article suggests keeping the file size to less then 320k.


  9. Sverre

    I have a special problem when using my Ipod Shuffle (old version) to play loooong audiobook files. I normally merge all the files on the CD to one large file (typically 1 hour) to m4a files, and then rename the files to m4b (using the DOS Command Prompt, “rename *.m4a *.m4b”. This works fine and is very quick).

    On the Ipod Shuffle, everything sounds ok for maybe 45 minutes, then the sound is distorted and very jagged. The ipod controls acts very slowly, ie. switching it off may take 5-10 seconds. When the next file is loaded, everything is ok again…..

    Anyone who has experienced the same problems? This is very annoying!


  10. Maryaurelia

    This info was extremely helpful, easy to follow, and saved my sanity! Thank You!!

  11. jcd

    i have done this – is there a trick now to get them to play in order. I have the random play turned off. They show in the audiobooks menu but when disc one is finished it goes back to the menu vs. playing disc 2. help….

  12. steve guice

    This all makes sense except step 6 … how do I change the extension? The file doesn’t show up with an extension, merely it’s name and mpeg4 shown under file type column … what am I missing here? Thanks.

  13. steve guice

    Ooops, never mind my last post … found the problem (I unchecked ‘hide known file type extensions’ in Folder Options/View), and it all works! Great to know how to convert to iPod audiobook … a real time and frustration saver, and no need to download separate converter software. Thanks for posting this, Richard … ramble on!

  14. Jamison

    I need to know how to get them to play in the right order! I went through and renamed them all in terms of 1, 2, 3, 4,5, etc. and it still shuffles them all up! I am getting very frustrated!


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