Audiobooks

Long form podcasts

November 11, 2014 — December 2, 2023

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Figure 1

1 Suppliers of audiobooks

  • The classic free/volunteer one is librivox, releasing open audio books from copyright-free classics.
  • Open Culture indexes miscellaneous free audiobooks.
  • Commercial service with permissive licensing libro.fm (No Australians allowed)
  • Commercial service downpour (No Australians allowed)
  • Quasi-monopoly, Amazon’s Audible has probably the biggest selection (Australians allowed)

2 Converters

Audible would like you to listen to your books in one of the mandated Audible playing apps, which are not the most pleasant audio players to use. It is better if we can transcoding the audio to an open format so that a more competitive audio player can be used. There are a few options here, but IMO one clear frontrunner.

2.1 Manual audiobook conversion

Crowdsourced or public domain audiobooks are often available as “chapgterized” MP3s, i.e. in many small files. Apple Books suddenly stopped working reliably for such things, so I got ChatGPT to write me a script to concatenate them.

2.2 OpenAudible

Openaudible is a transcoding client for Audible books. It knows neat tricks such as

  • bulk metadata export so you can sync your listening data to goodreads.com or a blog or whatever, and
  • being cross-platform.
  • organising files in consistent manner
  • handling artwork and chapter markers pretty reliably.

It is the only one that has worked reliably over time, and even added features when others have failed to even continue working. As such, I applaud their efforts. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Historical note: the project was originally open source, and then went closed source. Even though I do not disagree with the decision to charge for the software, (hell, I donated when it was still free) the process could have possible been handled better, and definitely communicated better. Part of this is a me problem: The various misspellings and glitches, which before it was commercialised seemed to be endearing community glitches and misspellings, those now look like unlovely examples of business incompetence. Still, I get that open source software development can be gruelling and it is nice to be compensated reliably. I also get that other underappreciated hard skill in open source software development, apart from writing code, is community management. Maybe there is more to the story than I know here?

I paid for a license.

2.3 AAXtoMp3

Minimalist audiobook converter. Free. Only just noticed so have not used. KrumpetPirate/AAXtoMP3: Convert Audible’s .aax filetype to MP3, FLAC, M4A, or OPUS

2.4 Noteburner

noteburner is feature-light but seemed to actually work~ not work last time I checked. (Windows/macOS)

2.5 Macsome

Macsome Audiobook/itunes converter (macOS/Windows) is sporadically updated, and had trouble with recent iTunes.

2.6 Tuneskit

tuneskit seemed to not work any longer last time I checked. (macOS/Windows)

3 utils