Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Listening to audiobooks

Fifteen years ago I was introduced to audiobooks by a friend. I had dog-sat while he went overseas, and my - unexpected - reward was an mp3 player with a couple of audiobooks loaded on it. Since that wonderful gift, my audiobook collection has grown to the high hundreds, and I listen to audiobooks daily.

Why daily? Because I sleep deeply and short: my husband sleeps lightly and long. Audiobooks fill the gap between my needed sleep, my low boredom threshold and my husband sleep's very well indeed. I use a trusty old iPod Nano which I clip onto my pillow, and listen n whisper-quiet through $3 earphones from AliExpress (here). The earphones usually crap out within about 6 months from being rolled on, so I don't go for high value or high cost ones.

What is even more interesting is that I will listen to audiobooks that I probably wouldn't have the patience to read, or think of buying. One of my favourite audiobooks is the seven volume work on Winston Churchill by William Manchester. I have an annual Audible subscription, have converted DVDs and CDs, have downloaded books from authors, and have borrowed audiobooks from libraries.

What do I use to listen? I listen on my phone, my iPod, or my PC. My iPod is my go-to listening device, but sometimes - if I am travelling internationally - I will load some extra books on my laptop, to be transferred to my iPod as I run low, as well as filling up my iPod. When travelling within NZ, sometimes I will add some books to my phone as well as on my iPod.

But the result of all these devices is that DRM causes me grief: many formats lack transferability, particularly Audible. To avoid that, I use a couple of pieces of kit to help me with getting the books that I own - or have borrowed for a time - onto my phone, my iPod, my laptop or my PC.

One way using three pieces of kit:
  • When downloading books from the Audible library, download (a) in Enhanced format, (b) using the latest Audible Download Manager, but (c) have an OLD version of Audible Manager installed (version 5.5.08 or earlier). Once you have downloaded, use a piece of German freeware kit called AaxToMp3GUI.exe (download here) and go to the file that Audible had saved your download to. Although this software is in German, you can easily work out that "Durchsuchen" means search, and "Umwandeln" means convert. Conversion will take a while. Then save the file and import it into whatever the software is that you use.
And another way using one piece of kit:
  • Manage all your downloads and file conversions using OpenAudible (download here). I have tried this and it seems to work just fine. Simply import your existing Audible files and the software will auto-convert them to mp3s. It says that it will work for the US, UK, DE, FR, AU, JP & CA regions (no mention of NZ, but we are probably lumped in with Aussie). The cool thing about this software is that you can do everything in one step: download, MP3 conversion, and file management, right from the desktop. Tip: set your conversion folder location as the same as your fave player folder (eg iTunes location). 
I hope this allows you all to listen to your books more easily.


Sam

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