The following appears to be a workaround that I have found, but I have still attempted to answer your questions.
LAME is excellent. Thank you for finding that information for me.
OK, it’s taken me a day, but my Google searches have proven quite productive. Not necessarily for iTurns, but for users (which means iTurns can incorporate the logic for a hands free version), tests look good for the free version if another free program is used. Only one glitch at this point (the artwork).
MP3 to iPod Audiobook Converter found at http://www.freeipodsoftware.com/. Problem with this software is that there is no documentation. So here is a rough outline of the process using both programs.
- Use iTurns Free to create the MP3 files.
- Bulk Edit the ID3 tag information with Album Title, Artist, Reader, Year, but not the track information or cover art. Don’t worry about the file names (although this would be a simple batch program to correct this issue).
- Use the freeipodsoftware, MP3 to iPod Audiobook Converter (unfortuantely, one more conversion needed to get the needed m4b file format), to put them in iTunes audiobook format (take an AAC or m4a file and rename it to m4b seems to be the actual fix so no conversion would be needed here if iTurns would convert to m4a format). Before you press the convert button in this program, make sure the files are in the order you want them played in. In the program window (drag and drop ability to rearrange the files before conversion).
- Bring it into iTunes using the “Add Folder to Library” option. Now the title (ID3 Album Title information) and author (ID3 Artist information) will be there (if you made sure the ID3 tags were correctly entered). The last step is to tell iTunes where the cover art is (I am still experimenting as to how to automate this process within iTunes). I have tried various locations on my computer and still working on this issue.
So the next question, will iTurns convert Audible files to the m4a or m4b file format rather than the MP3 file format?
CONCLUSION: iTurns needs an option to set the output format to AAC or m4a files (resulting in one less conversion in order to retain the audiobook status). Once all the files for the audiobook have been converted, the blanket editing of Artist and Title information is relatively easily automated (a little bit of user interface that I believe is in place on the PRO version but not sure). Renaming the file with the m4b file extension is relatively easy to automate. BUT there needs to be a file naming convention (to keep the files in order) would require something like D01T01, D01T02, D01T03 type prefix or suffix along with the title and maybe the author then the m4b extension. Each grouping of an Audible audiobook file can run up to 8 discs. iTurns is automatically setting up the logic to be 1. create a file called Disc 1, put the converted files in there with some “counter” logic with the base name being artist - title then a counter number that acts like a track number for all the tracks of the first pretend disc, 2. create a file called Disc 2, put the converted files in there with some counter logic with base name being artist - title then the counter number for all tracks of the second pretend disc. And we go on and on till we hit the end of the audiobook as defined by Audible and/or my playlist. I would hope that it would not be too difficult incorporate a leading 0 into this logic (a test for If 1-9 vs. 10 to 99then … could be an easy solution) but leading 0’s need to be incorporated on both the disc numbers and the title/track numbers for a no hands operation of the program. Otherwise the program is too labor intensive.
I haven’t tested Audible/Audiobook files…I haven’t had the chance. I know for a fact that it USUALLY works for my files. There have only been 2 times [out of 50+ tests] that a file failed to be tagged, and it could be repeated only with those same files.
From what I see after a quick Google search, any audiobooks downloaded using iTunes should be treated just as any other downloaded music…it should still be in Apple’s AAC format, just with a low bitrate. This means that they should have proper tagging. Can you afford to find an example Audible file in iTunes, right click the file, select “Get Info”, and navigate to the SECOND tab that has all the file tagging information? Then take a screenshot to see just how much of the data is filled out…this might help explain things [or further complicate them].
You are going to hate this one, How to I get a screen shot (not just the print screen button and copy to notepad solution) and send it to you (where do I send/store the files). That aside - from what I can gather, m4b format forces the “protected status” on a now audiobook file. When I do what you suggest Author (folder name used where iTunes stores an individual audiobook within the iTunes Music folder is the Artist information not the Author information), and a general description are the only editable items available to me that have information in them. Artist, title, track number and other information are not available to me to edit either in the Windows file window or through the iTunes program (why when you are using the MP3 to audiobook conversion program it is necessary to make sure you have edited the artist and other ID3 tag information BEFORE the conversion process [one of my first errors using the MP3 to audiobook program]).
Also, if you have an Audible audiobook, it is sectioned off into 10 to 12 minute chapterettes that are typically hidden to the user in both iTunes and Windows. In Windows, the audiobook section of the itunes library is filed under a particular Artist’s name in that iTunes library folder. All the chapterettes are contained in 1 to 12 files that comprise the total audiobook (typical book is about 2 of these files with a load of chapterettes). The only indication that a single Audible file has more than one file in it is the message from iTunes that you are about to edit more than one file, proceed with caution. On the other hand, when you convert a group of mp3’s or m4a’s into an audiobook (m4b file structure), then your chapterettes will be the individual original files joined together (sort of like a playlist but better).
When I attempt to edit ID3 tag information within the audiobook section of iTunes, I will get a warning window stating that I am about to edit multiple files and do you want to proceed nonsense. Well of course I want to, and proceed BUT I cannot change the title of my book or the artist information in this window. These two pieces of the original file create some of the organaization of how iTunes handles an audiobook (a file is created with the artist’s name and the title of the book shows up under the coverart). Coverart is manually added (at least at this point I am still researching this area. I know this is highly confusing but I tried.
You might suggest I use the m4a file format and add the artwork there, well I added artwork, blah blah blah there and it still lost the artwork when I converted it.
Also, as generic as this is, maybe double check that the option to write CD Text is enabled for the iTurns virtual drive?
I do not see that option under Disk Management, but I did scroll far enough to find the drive letter change.
Also also, can you try the program Mp3tag [ http://www.mp3tag.de/en/ ] to see if it can read the tags of your files? With this software, you may be able to have a semi-automatic tagging of files. [Read the tags from the old files to a text file, manually select the new files and have mp3tag write the new tags to the new files]. It claims to be able to do that, but I don’t know how easy it would be with protected files. This would only be a temporary work-around, but it’s an idea.
This has the same problem as iTunes and the Windows Property editor, cannot access the Artist, Title and other information. It appears that the m4b status locks out users from editing this information and designates the file “protected.”
If we are talking MP3 files, a program called SnackAmp has the ability to change the “title” in the ID3 tag to the file name. The file name can be batch programmed using the naming convention as described above. And Charlie, our Audiobook collection is almost as bad as our Video collection, OUT OF HAND. I just needed a break from videos. < - - - - - - - insert smiley going insane and pullling it’s hair out