Audio books killed the radio star

Finding books, What to Read 1 Comment

My life is pretty hectic at the moment, with two preschoolers, and full time study. Reading is one of the things that has been sacrificed, as the only time i get to sit down without interruption seems to be when I am “encouraging the kids to fall asleep”. Since returning to study, I get even less reading done. However, I have gained a commute.

Slowly, I have started to listen to audio books in the car, and it has opened up a new world for me. Although it takes me about a fortnight to get through a book, this is at least as fast as I am reading in real life.

How to find audio books

Audio books are openly available and inexpensive.

  • Readings of classic literature is available for free download from Librivox (these can also be downloaded as a podcast into itunes, so you can get the book in manageable installments)
  • Local libraries have Books on CD that can be borrowed, and even converted into digital format if you use an MP3 player in your car
  • Itunes has new release books for about $10 or $15 each
  • Audible offers a subscription service where a yearly fee gives you to download a quota of books each month
  • Books on tape and CD are often available at charity shops and garage sales, but choice and quality is limited.

How to convert books to itunes format

If you download a book from Librivox or record one from a CD, then it is not automatically recognized as an audiobook by itunes. If you use an iPod, this means the tracks won’t keep a bookmark and won’t show up in your audiobook folder.

If you have Itunes 8, it is very simple. Simply select the track, hit “get info” (CMD- I on the mac) and select “audiobook” as track type. Make sure the “Remember playback position” check box is ticked as well.

If you have a previous version of iTunes, it is a little more complicated. This method definitely works on Mac, but I haven’t tested it on Windows

  1. Download the “make bookmarkable” script from Doug’s Applescripts
  2. Follow the instructions to install it to itunes
  3. Select the track, right click and choose “create AAC version”
  4. Select the AAC version and run the applescript (from the applescript menu on the toolbar). It will be converted to audiobook format, and shifted to your Audiobook folder.
  5. Make sure you check the track info, and if you have multiple tracks, number them correctly. This ensures they will play in order.
  6. Check “gapless playback” if you find there is a pause between tracks.

I listen to a lot of books in my car now - mainly non fiction and classical. It has created an oasis of self-indulgence in my grinding trip home. What audio books do you love?