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I have recently become a book addict. For anyone who knows me well, you can pick yourself up off the floor now – I hardly ever read books unless the subject involves Manchester United (although I did once pick up John Grisham’s The Firm and couldn’t put it down).

But this is different – the sort of books I’m talking about are audio books. Walking the dog, the daily commute and the like are often considered “dead time” as far as productivity is concerned.

However, my iPod and more recently my iPhone, have enabled me to use this time wisely. Since I got my iPod in April 2006, I have more often than not had a pair of headphones on during this “dead time” but my listening has been limited to podcasts.

A few weeks ago, I signed up for an Audible account which gives me 2 audio books per month for £14.99 – and I also have a number of other audio books that have been converted from tape.

These converted audio books were initially in MP3 format which meant that they weren’t bookmarkable – in other words, when I turn off the iPod/iPhone mid-book (well you can’t listen to a whole book on a 30-minute commute!) the Pod/iPhone won’t remember the “position” and thus won’t be able to resume playing from where I paused the track.

To fix this, I first of all used the Advanced > Create AAC version command in iTunes to convert my MP3’s to AAC. However, for the files to appear in the Audio Books section of iTunes, they must be converted to M4B’s.

In Windows you can simply change the file extension from M4A to M4B. But not on a Mac. A Google search unearthed a little gem from Doug’s Applescripts – MakeBookmarkable

To quote from his website – “This script will change the file type of the selected AAC tracks to “M4B ” and file extension to “.m4b”, thus making them bookmarkable. (That is, the track will resume playing wherever you left off the last time you played it.) Additionally, when used with iTunes 7 or better, deletes and re-adds each track so it will appear in the Audiobooks Library. Ratings, play count, last played date, skip count, and skipped date are preserved.”

So I was home and dry…not quite! I synched my iPhone, clicked the iPod icon on the phone, selected Audio Books…and the phone returned back to the Home screen.

Apparently there’s a bug in iPhone 2.1 which causes the iPod app to crash if you have more than 19 audiobooks on your iPhone at any one time – more information here. So I reduced the number of audiobooks on the phone from 23 to 19 and now all is fine!