I am a fan of audio books. My experience with audio books started when I was looking for something to take the edge off of my commute to Toronto every day. I discovered this unique section at my local branch of the Oshawa Public Library, and back then they came on cassette tape. This made things convenient, as I could take the tape from my car and put it into my Walkman to continue listening to it. I even bought a few on cassette from the local book store at the mall. Later, this would turn into CD’s, on which I enjoyed Alan Alda’s “Never have your dog stuffed” and got through Moby Dick. Compact Discs were an inconvenient format, and when MP3 players came down in price, I would rip the library CD’s to low fidelity MP3’s that were perfect for what I needed. Then there was Audible.

That’s over half a gigabyte for the app alone!

The convenience that Audible offered cannot be understated. I felt their monthly subscription was a good value, and signed up. I realized early on that Audible files were a proprietary format, but they were supported with my favourite Sansa MP3 player, so that didn’t matter so much. When I moved on to an Android phone, I was a little frustrated that I had to install their app, which used up valuable space in my phone’s main storage. At this time, I could not install it to an external SD card. It was also frustrating when I wanted to share an audiobook with my family; my wife and son had to install the app as well, and I could only share with my wife. I couldn’t “Lend” an audiobook to my mother and father to enjoy. The breaking point was when I recognized that I could not play my Audible purchases in Linux. This concerned me as I wondered, what would become of my collection if Audible ever went out of business? Their app would eventually stop working with the latest operating systems, and that investment would be lost. Then there’s the fact that there is no good way for me to share my collection with my son or with future generations of grandchildren. I wouldn’t stand for this sort of thing with the music that I buy, so I see no reason that I should put up with these restrictions with audio books.

Good software, but how long will it work for?

Enter OpenAudible. As usual, I am not the first to think of this problem, so what OpenAudible does is it takes the audio books I legally purchased from Audible and converts them into an MP3 format. This allows me to enjoy my audio books with whatever audio player I choose, Now, this program wasn’t as intuitive on my installation of Ubuntu 18.04 as I would have liked. Installing it did not create an icon in my launcher, nor was there any obvious way for me to start it. After doing some digging, I discovered that this app installs itself in /opt/OpenAudible. I opened a terminal, typed in “cd /opt/OpenAudible” and then typed in OpenAudible to launch the program. After that, I followed the instructions on the OpenAudible web site and let it run all day to download and convert my collection.

Enjoying my legally purchased audio book in a Linux MP3 player.

Moving forward, I will cancel my subscription to Audible. However, I will continue to purchase books from Audible on a book-by-book basis, providing this application is still able to download and convert my Audible purchases for me. Should Audible see fit to permit the download of purchases in an open format, I may consider resuming a subscription. Meanwhile, I’ve rediscovered a great resource that I had been using years ago; that resource was LibreVox.

The future of all audiobooks

These are books that are in the public domain read by volunteers, and is a great way to get caught up on the classics. This is where I may divert some of the money I’ve been giving to Audible.

6 Replies to “OpenAudible”

  1. Just a note to let you know that I appreciate your work and treasure my OpenAudible collection. I maintain my collection for my private use, but really liked being able to share it with an old friend who was moving to the highlands of Guatemala with little more than her clothing and an inexpensive ChromeBook. The 128 G flash drive I gave her, filled with books, is now one of her most treasured possessions.

  2. Thank you for this awesome tool. It will allow me to put Audible purchases on my preferred mp3 player. However, I also urge everyone to do their best to not support Amazon/Audible and their attempts at controlling content with proprietary formats in the first place. I always check for other sources before giving a dollar to Audible. One of my favorite alternatives is … Or do a search for “title + mp3” to check for other alternatives.

    I consider Audible a last resort. And if that’s the only place an author chooses to include their work, I question whether I should be listening to them.

    Thanks again for the OpenAudible option if/when necessary. Hopefully Amazon/Audible doesn’t try to squelch it.

  3. after many thousands of dollars in Audiobooks first cassetts then cds donated about 6 24×24 boxes to local libary then swithed to audible and mp3 files:)
    Lost major collection when hard drive failed 🙁
    Rebuilding new collection I did not focus on backing up Audible just assumed I paid and it would be there. Silly me 🙂
    A few books just dissapeared from my libary with no notice or return of credits or cash spent.
    Now been reading Audible is in lincence disputes and a few law suits are ongoing.
    So thank you OpenAudible everything is backed up and converted and saved on an external HD and backed up to a Qnap NAS
    I have not looked into a qnap app like openaudible that would be really sweet indeed.

  4. When downloading my files from Audible, a few gave errors, saying they weren’t available. I could see them in my library, just not download them.
    I contacted Audible support, and they were able to add them back into my library, and could then download them for conversion and backup.

  5. Hello, I am mostly very happy with Open Audible. It is much cheaper than the other software that I looked at. I had several Audible books that I was not able to use for years. Plus I can’t listen to aax files on my Sony Walkman. I like being able to convert aax files to mp3s. I like being able to split the mp3s of the converted books into chapters. However, I noticed that the first file in every section of mp3s is resistant to accepting tag changes in Windows Media Player. I tried to label these files, but they very easily revert to unknown album, unknown song name, unknown genre and unknown year. I am using Windows 7, Windows Media Player 12 and Windows Media Player Plus. I am able to play these first files, but I wish we could get a bug fix for this. I appreciate the other comments.

  6. Silly me, But after quite some years with Audible, well I am quite happy with them. I certainly don’t like the muscle that Amazon is showing over Audible, I think it foretells of future problems. I have for years just downloaded the proprietary .aax format and converted them to a ready standard, that can be used all over the place. Please note that I do not distribute/give these copies about, I paid for them, if others want them, well roll up the sleeves, earn the money, and pay for them. Our writers get little enough as it is. Besides I would like more titles available, not less if payment is not made.

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