Use Music Not Books for Audio Books

July 01, 2021

For years iTunes became more ans more bloated as more and more functionality was bolted on to it. Originally design to manage music in the form of MP3 tracks grouped into albums, and albums into sets by artist, iTunes was eventually asked to also manage device syncing for first iPods and later iPhones and iPads. It was asked to manage media types from movies to TV shows to podcasts to audiobooks. In short it was very overloaded; instead og doing one thing well, it was doing many things more or less well.

Apple started splitting the functionality in to separate apps. Now we have apps for Music, Books, TV, and Podcasts. The Music and TV apps allow you to change the location of the underlying data store. You can readily navigate to the files on the file system. Books and Podcasts are stored in a cache buried in the ~/Library directory. They are not meant to be use accessible, and they cannot be moved to another location.

My iMac has 256GB of internal storage. My media collection (movies, music, and audio books) consumes ~480GB. Consequently I have a 4TB USB drive attached to my computer. Not being able to move the audio book storage location means I either (1) use up 138GB (53%) of my primary drive just on audio books, or (2) keep all the audio book files on the external drive and import only the ones I am currently listen to to the Books app. The first option isn’t acceptable, and the second is cumbersome at best.

Compounding the issues with the Books app is a lack of features. In the Music app you can add artwork and edit metadata about the media. The Books app doesn’t allow any metadata manipulation. When I import an audio book from CD, if I don’t first add it to the Music app, I can’t add artwork or adjust the author / narrator information. If I do import it into the Music app to do these activities, I then have to import it a second time into the Books app. Messy, time-consuming, and not worth the aggravation.

Instead what I am doing is import all my audio books into the Music app, setting the genre to “Audiobooks”, adding the artwork, adjusting any metadata I wish, and calling it a day. I’kk use the Books app for eBooks, but not for audio books.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.