Handling LARGE Audiobook Libraries

When macOS went to Catalina and it split iTunes up (Finally) The Audiobook section in iTunes was moved to Books but even 3 years later Books lacks simple metadata editing features and is a huge pain when trying to deal with Audiobooks creating collections ETC.

I have a gigantic Audiobook Library (About 1TB) that all still sits in my iTunes Media folder but I did not connect this folder to the Books App given the issues stated above.

What I have been doing which is a hassle is copying the next 20 to so Audiobooks I want to listen to over to the books app so I can access it on my iPhone but I miss being able to get a full view of my Audiobook library like I was able to in iTunes on mojave and earlier.

I still add audiobooks on a regular basis both from Audiable & ripping CDs from the local library. I use Auidobook Builder to tag the ripped CDs so the metadata is good but AUdiable files are a mess.

Does anyone with a large audiobook library have a better workflow / solution for managing & tagging their books.

I use Plex with a custom media agent (I forget the steps I had to take) it works really well, and you can use the Prologue audiobook player.

I’m with @geoffaire in using Plex (and the Plex Music agent)
Curious though, how you were able to include Audible?

I don’t include audible…

OP said he did though, or did I misread?

I’m guessing using Open Audible to get those files.

Great question, Audiobooks in Books drives me crazy.


I am able to listen to Audiable .AAX files in my Books App on my iPhone. I prefer just using 1 app since I have a few collections rather than the Audiable App.

There are some apps that convert .AAX to .MB4 that I have used in the past…


I have a huge library of audiobooks that I’ve built over the course of at least a decade and have been searching for the ideal solution to manage them ever since Apple tried to shoehorn audiobooks into its awful Books app. (The Books app exists to sell you content, not help you manage your library, but I degress …)

  1. First of all, I make sure that everything that I’ve purchased has been stripped of its DRM, if any, has been converted to m4b format, and has been downloaded onto the external hard drive where I store my digital media. (I currently purchase my audibooks from Libro.fm, which has its own pretty good audiobook player app but also allows you to download your books DRM-free.)

  2. I use Mp3Tag to tag all of my audiobook files irrespective of source to make sure everything is correct and to ensure consistency when searching, sorting, and the like.

  3. I store all of my audiobooks on an external hard drive in a very thin Finder hierarchy. The top folder is “Audiobooks,” under which is a separate folder for each book, with the following naming convention for both book and folder:

[Author last name] - [Book short title], [Part number if needed]

or, for certain non-fiction books
[Author last name] - [Book short title] • [Subtitle], [Part number if needed]

  1. If I need to group books together for a project or a deep dive of some sort, I will on occasion create a special subfolder—usually named @[Project]—into which I’ll move the books in question. If I have the epub or PDF version of the book, I’ll put a copy of that in the folder as well just to keep things together.

  2. I use Bookplayer to listen to my audiobooks and import them into the app using Airdrop. It couldn’t be simpler. I do all my library management on my Mac, and being able to see my entire library on my phone isn’t particularly of interest to me, so this is all I need. It is possible to import books into Bookplayer via DropBox or Google Drive if you store your audiobooks there.

  3. I wish that there were a Calibre for audiobooks! Until there is, I use Mp3Tag’s export function to create a CSV file of my library, which I then massage in Excel as needed.

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This app looks like the Calibre for Audiobooks, only downside is that it needs to be self hosted in Docker.
I think this might be my weekend project :nerd_face:

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I still use Plex with prologue as a front end because prologue is that good, but I also run Audiobookshelf on the same media folder. Prologue developer said he will eventually support it. Also it is easier to sort and has backend tools such as m4b encoding and embed metadata tools.

And as to another comment with regards to Calibre it does support audiobooks. I used to put the audiobook together with the ebook and access via Calibre-web spun up on docker on my NAS. Definitely a nice workflow for those that are sharing with multiple family members, but you need to use something like BookPlayer to play the file (my experience has been Calibre-web doesn’t maintain the location of file well.)


I’ve got this setup on my server at home. So far it’s worked really well. They also have an iPhone app which is currently available through Test Flight.

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Sigh. I’m not interested in a server so much as something that retrieves metadata and maintains a catalogue that can access on my Mac. Plex and audibookshelf are more solution than I need. (If I had world enough and time I’d give Plex + a scraper agent a shot … )

Calibre doesn’t really do what I need either, which is pull the audiobook’s metadata, e.g., narrator, publisher, copyright, etc. and populate the relevant fields in the database.

If you don’t want to run Audiobookshelf (which does all of this), you can make custom columns in Calibre and im pretty sure you can pull that data with plugins.

It’s not that I don’t want to run Audiobookshelf per se. I’m pretty bold when it comes to rolling my own tech solutions, but after giving the documentation a quick perusal I still don’t know a) what Docker is and b) how to install Audiobookshelf.

To the best of my knowledge, the Calibre plug-in that pulled in audiobook metadata no longer works.

Question re point #1: I assume you cannot strip purchased from Apple Books of DRM in order to do anything with it? If one can, how? Then convert? How?
Thank you for any help you can give another frustrated heavy audiobooks user

If your familiar with Calibre might just consider custom columns (and a little manual adding narrator etc). Would pull cover art and most metadata on the book and you can add the rest. Also makes it nice if you have book and audiobook.

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I’ve thought of doing this as an alternative to my spreadsheet. (I do already have a custom column set up in Calibre to indicate that I own the audiobook in addition to the ebook.) I’m not sure that I want to store the audiobook itself in Calibre itself, though.

I think if you are looking for east metadata, learning how to install audiobookshelf is best option. It is a bit more open about file structure then Plex (and Calibre has its own database structure).

If not storing in Calibre and above doesn’t seem like an option not sure I would go through the hassle of Calibre and would probably keep the excel file.

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Until someone else builds a straightforward, out-of-the-box solution for audiobook library management, that’s my plan. It’s is not my most pressing problem, tech or otherwise.

Many thanks for taking the time to point me towards some alternatives, though. If I had the time and mental shelf space, I’d probably give one of them a go.

I have maybe 4 total books I’ve gotten from the iTunes store. All were gifts. I primarily get my books from

  1. Local Library systems still getting CDs and ripping them. Lucily I live on the boarder of two counties so I am able to check the database of the system and if A book on CD I am waiting on becomes available I am able to have it delivered to my local library in about 2 days.

The worst part of the process is how slow my Mac Pro 5,1 super drive seems to Rip CDs into AAC. AFter I have all the files ripped I build the .M4B with AudiobookBuilder from the app store. I’ve had it for years its always worked great but very few updates, not that Its really needed it.

  1. I bought 24 Audible credits on sale last year, anytime a brand new book comes out that i want to read right away I’ll use a credit but otherwise I use my Audible wishlist and than will check the newer books with my local libraires, if after about 18 months It does not become avaiable on CD I will just buy it in audiable. Relly just comes down to how quicky I want to start the book.

Audiable + Sonos works pretty well together, a little smoother than the Books App + Airplay.

I DO use an app to strip my audiable books of DRM, a quick google search will give you a few apps that you can do that with,