I LOVE audio-books. I enjoy listening them and learn a lot faster with them than reading. I usually listen them in my leisure times, while doing some physical exercise as in the gym, in the bus, while walking my ass …. They are just great tools of learning; and the iPhone (iPod) is a brilliant devise for audios. I also have Oxford & American Heritage dictionaries in it to check out new words. I know no other phone that has a better an application to manage audiobooks as well as great dictionary as Oxford and American Heritage. The main reason I bought the iPhone is of course for the audio-books.
In this shallow world where substantive things lose value and triviality has got the utmost attention though, music has received more emphasis over audiobooks. Hence, Mr. Apple doesn’t take the case of audiobooks seriously in its devices. iPod is the perfect tool for music but not really as great as one expects for audio-books. There are a few tricks that you can do to get the books into the iPod; but not as such satisfactory specially when it comes to organization. I have tried different methods to organize my audio-books, to get each of the files in the books in a proper order so that listening would be more joy, organized and deductive. But, my frustration with ITunes was limitless. Spending hours and hours to make my audio-books easily accessible for listening, I was not able to get all as I wanted. I have tried renaming the files, putting them into playlists, tagging track numbers etc. with no success. The following two problems where specially annoying me all the time.
1. ITunes doesn’t allow importing many CDs of the same book as a single book. If you want to get your audiobooks into your iPhone, you have to store them as music Albums. That is the trick you need to learn if you want to manage your books in iTunes. But, storing audiobooks as music albums couldn’t give you the flexibility to store different sections/chapters of the books as chapters/sections. I used to listen to an English vocabulary book called Verbal Advantage, as I mentioned before. The book has 24 CDS. I have to store each of the CDS as separate books in the iPhone. This makes the ipod a total mess. While I had only about 90 audiobooks, the iPod actually used to display more than 300 audiobooks. That is just uncomfortable to browse the books. I want all the CDs as a single book. iTunes has a small trick thing to join the files of the CDs; I have used it for some time. But, that doesn’t work with mp3.
2. It Messes up track numbers: this is the terrible problem. In the middle of the listening, the the narration jumps from track 03 to 40. I have tried different methods to solve the problem in iTunes. Just terrible problems reappear now and then.
I then discovered MediaMonkey. It is not discovery actually. I have been using the software to manage music for about three years now. I can dare to say, MM is by far the best media management software; and its tagging feature is so incredible. I love it in all my heart. But, I was not able to get it work with my iPhone for some reason. Finally, I learned that the problem was related with QuickTime. Though there is not explicit requirement about the QuickTime, I found my iPhone failing to synchronize without it. So, I installed it beside iTunes. Everything works fine now. So, in this page, I will show you how you can exploit the powers of MM to manage your audiobooks.
So, here is how I get the best result in MM: 4 simple steps
1. Rename the files properly
2. Import them into MM
3. Tag the Title of the files from the file names
4. Remove the Track#
1. The first step is to properly rename your audio files. The renaming is necessary because tagging can be done from the name of the files. I use a software called Bulk Rename Utility to rename my files; an ugly, but so powerful software! it makes the renaming so simple.
Just add some meaningful numbers as prefixes in the files, as
In this picture for example, I am simply prefixing CD7 on the existing names. The presix makes the iPod to arrange the files accordingly. The Bulk Renaming Utility (the book is “Verbal Advantage” as can you can see on the left side in the picture) can do complicated naming. You can add just prefixes, as I did here, Find and Replace, add numbers as Prefixes, etc. This way of renaming, I will give your files a consistent file name that could order them even if they are in the same folder. The file name also will function as the Title for the audio-files (as I will show you next). After prefixing the CD-numbers in each of the files, I may then put all the files of the 24 disks into one folder(if I want to). Then
2. Import them into MM. I assume you know how the basics of MM. Go to Files->Add/Rescan files –>choose the folder where you have your audiobook; “[test]-Verbal Advantage” in my case. MM will import all the files in the folder.
3. Tag the files using the “auto-tag from file name” feature of MediaMonkey. Before you do the tagging, you have to select all the imported files of the book in MM. I selected all the files in the 24 CDs of the Verbal Advantage. You then go to Tools menu in MM and click on “auto-tag from file name”. You will get a dialog box. In there, you will see the power of MM. It gives you the choices to tag Albums, Tracks, Artists etc from the file name. You can specify to tag two or more features at the same time. But, for now, tagging the Titles of the audios from the filenames is quite sufficient. So, choose only <title> from the box and remove the others. MM will mark blue on the files that their Title is going to change.
Here is the screen- shot of the tagging window.
The one I marked with red, for example, shows that the old Title “Introduction” is going to be replaced by a new title “CD-01-Introduction”. Click ok
4. Remove the Track# from the files. This is what motivated me to write this page today. Renaming and importing the files as I have described so far used to give me quite inconsistent results. For a reason I couldn’t explain, I sometimes used to get messed up orders of files in my iPhone. This morning, I discovered that the culprit is the Track# that the files come with. So, I have to remove it before I import the files into my iPhone. To do so, select all the files as usual –> right click –>properties . You will get a window. This is where you can insert the full metadata about your audiobook in MM. Here is what you have to do if you are not familiar with MM’s audiobook (music) management system.
a) File path—leave it blank
b) File Name—blank again
c) Title –blank
d) Type: “audiobook” <—this is very important. your iPod will recognize the audiobook as music otherwise. If you are using the older version of MM, you need to mark “audiobook” in the “Genre(s)” field.
e) Artist—write the artist(author) : “Charles Harrington Elster” in my case
f) Track#: leave the box black, but tick the box in front of it. This will remove all the old track numbers stored in the files.
Note that deleting the track number is necessary only if you find it offending. If the the track numbers are properly set, they are great assets actually. So, the first thing is to try to synchronize the files to your iPhone and see of the order is good enough. If you find some files misplaced, say the 12th set as 2nd in the order, you need to go and remove the track number of those files (or from all the files). If you find the whole CDx (or a chunk of files) misplaced, probably, the Disk# is the culprit. So, go and remove (fix) it.
But, I have found one special advantage in removing track# totally from my files. If the track#s are removed, the Titles (filenames) of the files will be clearly visible in my iPod; otherwise, the iPod will be showing me only the track numbers (as 3 of 20). Being able to read the titles is actually good idea b/c you will be able to read in which chapter, section or subsection you are in, how the sections/chapters are organized enhancing your comprehension; you can also easily skip the chapter/topic that you are not interest in ; or just jump forth to the sections of your special interest. When I was listening Bertrand Russel’s classic, “The History of Western Philosophy”, I had been skipping some of the sections about certain specific philosophers such as Hume and Descartes because I already heard (read) enough about them, targeting on less known ones helps me to get new ideas. The following picture is snapped from MM’s window. The names and numbers under Title column (marked Blue) will be visible in my iPhone. If I had no the Track# removed and hence the Titles invisible in my iPod, I wouldn’t be able to see which section is about which philosopher, hence, forced to listen every section.
(You can, by the way, use an application called FlickTunes to supplement your Title reading experience in your iPod app. Search it in App Store.)
5. Transfer the files into your iPhone. Now, you have perfectly ordered files in your iPhone (iPod) stored as a single book. You don’t need to worry about jumping back and forth in the book; no clutter in your iPod; no hassling with playlists…. just play the first piece and enjoy your book to the end in one move!