Audiobooks and Calibre
#1  pwalker8 05-12-2019, 02:51 PM
This particular discussion has been mentioned in a couple other threads, but I thought that I would start a new thread since I couldn't find the others.

My primary audiobook database has been iTunes. The main reason is that I have been using iTunes to transfer audiobooks to my iPhone/iPad and I can put both Audible books as well as books from other sources (I've got about 30 or so from non audible sources such as the LOTR and Harry Potter audiobooks)

A few months ago, I upgraded my car audio system to a new unit that included support for Apple's CarPlay which supports both Audible's app as well as Apple's Books app. I mostly use Audible's app at the moment and it works pretty well for me. The downside is that it only support's audbile books downloaded via the app from Audible to the device (i.e. iPhone). It works well enough in the car, I just have to remember to keep 4 or 5 audible books downloaded to my phone and I can easily pull up the next when a book finishes.

However, it doesn't really solve my problem with keeping my some 700+ audiobooks organized. iTunes has all the audiobooks, but it doesn't support series or narrators, plus one can not update certain info manually such as last played or if a book was listened to or not. So I decided to try Calibre.

I use Calibre for ebooks, but one can have multiple libraries, so I created a new library for audiobooks. I had tried Calibre before, but I couldn't get it to read the metadata for my audible books. This time, I downloaded an older calibre plug in that is suppose to read the meta data from audible, and I loaded the mp3 files that had the DRM removed rather the original audible files. This worked a lot better for me.

The downsides - first it's slow. I've been reading them in groups of about 10 or so at a time and it takes a good 5 minutes per group. Second, the metadata doesn't read in perfectly. The book name, author name and series info is all there, but it's repeated in the different fields, so I need to edit each book after I load them. Oddly, some books come through mostly correct while others are a little more mangled. It seems to be based on when I downloaded them. It's not horrible, it takes less than a minute to fix the info for each book, plus I can download the cover art. Last, the narrator isn't included in the meta data.

Fortunately, the narrator is included in the iPad version of the Audible app, so I can type that information in over a period of time. So it's going to take me a certain amount of time to get everything in to my satisfaction, but once I get the initial load done, adding new audiobooks as I buy them won't take more than a few minutes since I typically buy in groups less than 10.

The payoff - it will be a lot easier to see what books I have, what I haven't listened to, series and to be listened to lists.

#2  haertig 05-12-2019, 06:52 PM
I use Calibre for my audiobooks. The end result being that Calibre stores an audiobook as a single zip file that contains (1) a sequence of mp3 files, and (2) a picture file "cover.jpg"

I prep all these files before zipping them up. The I go to Calibre and "Add an Empty Book". To this empty book I fill in author and title. Then I do a meta data search. That generally brings up the eBook description and details, but those are good enough for me. What I am interested in is Author, Title, Series, Description and Tags (I enter Tags manually enter based on my own scheme).

Here is the template for my before-Calibre prep:

Here is how I store the files:
Example Directory Structure:
Audiobooks (directory) David Eddings (directory) The Belgariad series (directory) Book 01 of The Belgariad series - Pawn of Prophecy (directory) Pawn of (file, which contains:) cover.jpg Part 01 of Pawn of Prophecy.mp3 Part 02 of Pawn of Prophecy.mp3 Part 03 of Pawn of Prophecy.mp3 Part 04 of Pawn of Prophecy.mp3 Part 05 of Pawn of Prophecy.mp3 Part 06 of Pawn of Prophecy.mp3 Book 02 of The Belgariad series - Queen of Sorcery (directory) ... The Malloreon series (directory) Book 01 of The Malloreon series - Guardians of the West (directory) ... Book 02 of The Malloreon series - King of the Murgos (directory) ... Standalone Book (directory) High Hunt (directory) ... The Losers (directory) ...
Then I add the ZIP file shown above to Calibre (which in turns stores that in its own directory structure, separate from the above).

But before using Calibre, and before zipping the audio book up, I use the program PuddleTag or EasyTag or MP3Tag to create the following ID3 tags in each MP3 file. And I find an appropriate picture to use as cover.jpg (usually from Amazon or a Google search).

Tag Name: Artist
Meaning: Author
Example: David Eddings
Tag Name: Album Artist
Meaning: Narrator
Example: Cameron Beierle
Tag Name: Album
Meaning: Series name
Example: The Belgariad series
Tag Name: Disc
Meaning: Book # in series
Example: 01
Tag Name: Title
Meaning: Book title
Example: Pawn of Prophecy
Tag Name: Track
Meaning: Position # in sequence of files
Example: 01
Tag Name: Genre
Meaning: Genre
Example: Fantasy (could be comma separated list if multiple genres, e.g., "Fantasy, Adventure")
Tag Name: Comment
Meaning: Software parseable concatenation of all of the above tags
Example: Author: David Eddings; Narrator: Cameron Beierle; Series: The Belgariad series; Book # in Series: 01; Title: Pawn of Prophecy; Track # in Book: 01; Genre: Fantasy;

FWIW, here is the definition I use to create the "Comment" field in PuddleTag (PuddleTag supports this in it internal "Format" command):

Author: %artist%; Narrator: %albumartist%; Series: %album%; Book # in Series: %discnumber%; Title: %title%; Track # in Book: %track%; Genre: %genre%

Obviously, before running the step to create the Comment field I have to first fill in all the other fields. The reason I create this comment field is for the case where I accidentally make some mistake that hoses up one of more of the other fields. I can recreate those fields by parsing the Comment field down into its component parts.

Note: My Track field and Disc field in the ID3 tags is always two digits, with a leading zero if needed. Also, my directory and file names use leading zeros where appropriate too. This is to clue in MP3 players to sort the files correctly during playback.

To use these ZIP files, I download them to a computer, unzip, and then sideload the contents to my MP3 player. "cover.jpg" is ignored by some players, but used by others, so I supply it.

#3  pwalker8 05-12-2019, 07:19 PM
Interesting. I generally keep the entire audiobook in one mp3 file, though there are some that have multiple files. I don't expect to use calibre to launch the audioback since I listen to audiobooks on my iPhone or iPad.

#4  haertig 05-13-2019, 02:08 PM
Several months (a year?) ago I was experimenting with using only one large MP3 file as opposed to multiple files. I even asked about peoples thoughts about that practice, here on MR. But I largely abandoned that after playing with it for a while. After one time where I accidentally lost my place in the book, and was forced to scroll and scroll and scroll to re-find my last location. That probably wouldn't have been much of a problem on an Android of iOS based audiobook player with their multiple bookmarking capabilities, but it was not fun on my old Sansa Clip player. You can indeed set multiple bookmarks with Rockbox firmware on the Sansa, but alas, I had not been doing that at the time.

So, in summary, I am back to using multiple MP3 files now. But may move back to single files later, as I hone my skills and technique.

#5  haertig 05-13-2019, 02:20 PM
Quote pwalker8
I don't expect to use calibre to launch the audioback since I listen to audiobooks on my iPhone or iPad.
I don't launch the audiobook with Calibre either. Calibre just provides a vehicle to download it to a remote computer, then subsequently I sideload from that computer onto my MP3 player.

In my post above I described the file structure of how I store my audiobooks before I add them into Calibre. There is a reason I store them both inside and outside of Calibre. Calibre provides the download option that I described in the paragraph above. And those downloads are served from Calibre's webserver or from a separate app, Calibre-Web, that access the Calibre database. I mostly use Calibre-Web, because it is much lighter on resources than Calibre is.

But for my audiobook file structure (outside of Calibre), I use both BookSonic (a fork of AirSonic) and Plex servers to stream the audiobooks. I am just experimenting with these other non-Calibre servers now. I currently use AirSonic and Plex to stream my MP3 music files, and I am experimenting with using them to stream audiobooks now.

#6  pwalker8 07-01-2019, 03:38 PM
It took a while, but I've got all my audiobooks loaded in calibre, with the meta data (titles, authors and series) cleaned up. Now, I need to fix the series info and start putting in the narrators.

What's the goal of all this? A couple of things. First to make sure that no audiobook falls through the cracks and second to manage my audiobooks so I can queue up my audiobooks properly. I have some 700+ audiobooks and I'm pretty sure that there are quite a few have fallen through the cracks as I've had to shift between different audio platforms.

I actually have a fair amount of hope for the new books for MacOS and how it syncs between platforms.

#7  Snodgrass 09-26-2020, 01:02 AM
Has anybody had luck with m4b files and calibre? I've been experimenting with combining mp3s into m4a/b files with chapter markings. That part of it is more or less okay, but I use a number of different kinds of telephone plus ipods, and they react in different ways.

#8  pwalker8 09-26-2020, 08:27 AM
Quote Snodgrass
Has anybody had luck with m4b files and calibre? I've been experimenting with combining mp3s into m4a/b files with chapter markings. That part of it is more or less okay, but I use a number of different kinds of telephone plus ipods, and they react in different ways.
I'm not sure what you mean. Calibre will accept any file. It may not automatically read the meta data though. When you talk about different kinds of phones and iPods, you make it sound like the issue is getting the various phones and iPods to handle the files.

#9  Snodgrass 10-02-2020, 02:05 AM
Yes, indeed. Calibre is fine with the m4bs. One iPod likes them; the other gets confused. The iPad is fine. Five different old telephones with three different readers... I should simplify, I suppose.

Still experimenting.

Happy isolating, all.

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