I love to listen to audio books in the car while I commute 30-40 minutes each way to work. It is also a nice way to pass time in airports and during flights. I listen to music about 40% of the time and audio books the other 60%.
For music and audiobooks I use an iPod – I have an Alpine car radio which interfaces to the iPod through a digital cable. I use the radio’s buttons to control the iPod which is hidden in the glove box of my car so I can access dozens of audiobooks and thousands of MP3 songs from the car dashboard.
The following method works in Apple’s iTunes and can be played from iTunes directly or on either an iPod or iPhone by using Sync. This method, including software suggestions, is for Windows XP.
The m4b file format for iTunes Audiobooks
This all leads me to this discussion about how to create m4b Audiobooks (one word) from mp3 audio books (two words) files for iTunes. Apple has a special filetype for iTunes Audiobooks called m4b. The m4a (for music) and m4b (for audiobooks) use a compression codec called Advanced Audio Coding (AAC). Audiobooks in m4b format are one large audio file containing the entire book and have the ability to remember where you stopped listening – a bookmark! Even if you listen to other music tracks or even other audiobooks on the iPod/iPhone, when you go back to that book it will resume where you left off. This is much better than the old way I listened to books on CDs where if I stopped the CD I could resume it from the same spot only if I didn’t eject it to listen to something else. If I ejected the CD to listen to something else, I lost my place.
Since I get my audio books as mp3 fragments of the whole book, sometimes over 200 separate mp3 files for one book, I need to convert these to a single m4b file. I could purchase the books from Apple already in the single m4b format, but that is very limiting.
No, I need a way to convert multiple mp3s to one m4b. There are at least two ways to do the conversion.
1. mp3 to m4b Conversion – direct method
There is a free software tool for directly combining many mp3 files and converting the output to a single large m4b file. This tool is called, appropriately enough, MP3 to iPod Audio Book Converter and I have used it successfully – sometimes. The problem is the output file sometimes has the wrong duration encoded in the file which causes various problems, including causing iTunes to crash. I say sometimes, but it is actually more like 75% of the time.
2. mp3 to m4b Conversion – indirect mothod
As luck would have it, there is another, almost foolproof, way to make the conversion. Unfortunately, it takes several steps, although just a little longer it actual processing time.
I use another free tool called MergeMP3 to combine all the mp3 fragment files into a single mp3 file of the whole book. I’m careful to include the proper mp3 Tags like title, author, and album (same as title) in this step. Then I drag the finished full-book mp3 file into iTunes and it immediately adds the file to my library – but as music, not an audiobook. Next I locate this file in the iTunes music library under the artist (author) and Right-Click the title and select Create AAC Version.
iTunes now converts the mp3 to an AAC format called m4a. This takes a few minutes and is the longest part of the process. When complete, I locate the m4a file and change the extension to m4b. The file is the same, just a slightly different name. Finally, back to iTunes and under File I select Add a file to Library and locate the new m4b (b for book) file and it will be added to the audiobooks category. I can go back to the music category and delete the original mp3 file and also delete it from the folder on my computer.
There are a lot more steps to do this manually, but I haven’t had a single file with errors using this method.
Source from http://etxp.com/.