How-to: Create a Chapterized Audio File of Your Kids’ Audiobooks (or Your Own Mixed CDs)

Geek Culture

Image by Flickr User Christian BryanImage by Flickr User Christian Bryan

I’ve only recently discovered the wonder that is classic children’s stories, read by famous voices, on CD audiobooks. They can keep your child spellbound and entertained for hours and you don’t have to get a sore throat reading them yourself. My little girl got the Roald Dahl’s Phizz-whizzing Audio Collection for her birthday this year, containing 3 of his most famous stories, spread over 8 CDs. She also got an iPod speaker dock (amazing sound quality from such a funny looking thing) to use with her Mum’s old iPod Mini. You’ve spotted the problem there haven’t you?

Of course, it’s as easy problem to get around, just rip the CDs onto the iPod and boom, you’re done. Except that there’s nothing more annoying than a single chapter of an audiobook coming up during a random assortment of the Muppets Greatest Hits.
Fine you say, use the ‘Join CD Tracks’ option in iTunes to make them all one file. Except that they’re on 2 or 3 CDs each and you also can’t easily move between the chapters or know what each one is called.

So here’s a great way to rip your Audiobooks (and DJ mix or classical CDs) into a single AAC file, that will remember where you last got to and have chapter markers named correctly for each track so you can still skip directly to each one if you want to.

First, I need to apologize to all the PC users out there because, as far as I’m aware, this trick will only work on a Mac as it relies on having either GarageBand or Apple’s podcast ChapterTool (which seems to have now disappeared from the interweb) installed, as well as some Applescripts from Doug Adam’s (no, not THAT one) excellent and ever useful Applescript archive – Doug’s Scripts. If anyone knows a way to do it on a PC, please let us know in the comments.

So before we begin, we need to get hold of those few handy tools.

Join Together – an excellent AppleScript Studio app that will do the bulk of the work for us.
Join Together also requires the QuickTime 7 Player, so if you’ve upgraded to Snow Leopard you might need to download it from Apple or check your install discs.

This Tag, That Tag Scripts – this collection of scripts is used to swap some of the ID3 Tag information around and is used for the mixed CDs version.

Once you’ve got them all downloaded and installed (each one includes info on how to install them so I haven’t repeated it here), pick your CD and load it up into iTunes and wait for the good old CDDB to do it’s thing.

Step 1
As this audiobook spans three CDs, we need to get all the tracks into the computer first, so it’s best to rip them all as AIFFs so we don’t lose the downsample them right at the beginning. In the menubar got to iTunes > Preferences > General > Import Settings and flip the Import Using dropdown to AIFF Encoder.
Switching to AIFF EncodingSwitching to AIFF Encoding
Import the disc and put the files into a new playlist. Repeat this for the other discs and add them to the same playlist.

If you’re only using a single disc, you don’t need to import it first, you can run it directly from the CD. If you’re ripping a DJ mixed CD, you might want to follow this extra step, if not skip down to Step 3 below.

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