Audiobooks: They’ve Come a Long Way

There’s never been a better time to play audiobooks. The 2007 iPods are extremely intelligent when it comes to enhanced audiobooks, which are AAC files with a chapter track. These are functionally equivalent to enhanced podcasts.

Modelling this look here on a 3rd-Gen Nano is the final episode of the much-loved but inevitably cancelled Australian national radio show Get This, with the actually rather-famous comedian Tony Martin and his lovable young roguish companions, Ed Kavalee and Armitage Shanks:

Get This on 3rd-Gen Nano

This file has been stitched together from the three-part podcast that consists of the entire final show minus the music. I’ve removed the beginning and ending ads, chaptered the file and tagged it down to the release date and copyright information. It’s now a .m4b file, no longer an MP3 podcast, and appears in the Audiobooks library in iTunes.

Note the third line down, Slim Shady Sr. This is the name of the currently playing chapter. The first line is the name of the overall track. The progress bar is divided into the chapter markers. If you click forward or reverse, it will jump one marker. What’s really cool is the fact that once you’ve clicked the audiobook in Music > Audiobooks, the Nano and Classic show you all the chapters, like you’re looking at a music album. If you’ve stopped playing somewhere in an audiobook, then return to this menu, there will be a new item at the top, Resume, which allows you to rapidly pick up where you left off:

3rd-Gen Nano Audiobook Menu

Here’s what this audiobook looks like on a Touch:

Audiobook on iPod Touch

The Now Playing screen looks like any music track, but if you flip the cover, the chapters are broken down into tracks similar to what you see on the 3rd-Gen Nano and Classic. No Resume option as above, but tapping the audiobook will pick up from where it left off.

Oh, and why is the podcast of a radio show considered an audiobook? The basic logic is that it’s not music, so it shouldn’t be in the music library and I consider podcasts to be ephemeral, so I like to move the ones I want to keep out of the Podcasts library. There’s no other place to put these. They are “spoken word”, so that’s the stretch I use, plus they do lend themselves to this type of treatment. And this type of content is considered an audiobook at Audible.com.

PS: If you would like the above file, you can download it from here for a limited time.

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5 Responses to Audiobooks: They’ve Come a Long Way

  1. Mauphhy says:

    haha yeah lame, what’s even more funny is that “LAME” is just an acronym for… ok you better sit down for this… it stands for: Lame Ain’t an Mp3 Encoder. But it is, an encoder that is (and now you can laugh lol). What’s more is that lame is suppose to be one of the best mp3 encoders out there, and it’s free too

  2. steamroller says:

    encoded with lame? lol!

  3. James C says:

    I have had the exact same problem on my iPhone! I thought it may have been the firmware at fault, but it seems that it’s evident on all iPods. Damn you Matty Dower (on the pots and pans)!!

  4. tunegardener says:

    Glad you like it!

    Another reason why I wanted to do this conversion is because the last half or so of all the podcasts started acting up on all my iPods. If I scrubbed through the track, the iPod would “quit” and go back to the main menu, as if it had finished playing the track. If you selected the track again, it would not play it. Only after syncing back to the computer could you play it on an iPod again. This was so bad that I replaced a 2nd-Gen Nano, thinking that the Nano was faulty. I’ve never seen this behaviour before. Examining the track in QuickTime Player, it seems a perfectly normal MP3 file, but it was encoded with LAME, so perhaps there’s a borderline compatibility there.

  5. James C says:

    Thanks for this! I was hopeful Get This would start releasing their podcast in enhanced AAC at some point (the way they divide up the podcast it certainly made sense to do this) but sadly it never came to be. As soon as I heard that Get This was marching it’s way to cancellation, I promptly downloaded every single podcast from the feed. That way, Triple M couldn’t (ASSAULT! ASSAULT!) me when they kicked it off their site.

    Good to see someone else taking matters into their own hands. You never know, Get This might return as a Gervais-style podcast, or get picked up by another radio network. We can all dream…

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