proof of concept: circulating audiobooks from iTunes Music Store

Just to see how the process would go, I decided to download an audiobook from the iTunes Music Store today and convert it into a circulable package. Why? While slightly more staff time intensive, buying audiobooks this way could be cheaper. Also there’s the whole books on mp3 issue that we’re trying to figure out. I like the program in which we’re currently participating, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t poke around, right?

Here’s how it went. I selected the title and downloaded it. I next loaded the downloaded mp3s into a playlist and burn. Normally, this wouldn’t be an issue, but it was. When burning music from a playlist, if there is more than one CD’s worth of content, the program prompts the user to cancel or have the music burn on multiple CDs. It did indeed prompt me, but then alerted me to the fact that burning across CDs wasn’t allowed with content purchased from the ITMS. It also suggested that I just burn one book section at time, which I did. These individual sections (there were three for Dress Your Family…) burned across 2 CDs each actually.* Whilst the CDs were burning, I prepared packaging for the BOCD.

I coped and pasted the artwork from the ITMS into photoshop, and printed it out. I could not, however, copy and paste the (Booklist and LJ) blurbs from the ITMS. My highlighting/copy function was disabled. At this point I said to myself, “Ha! Doesn’t the ITMS know that I’m a librarian and have special content from these library sources?!” So I surfed on over to and copied the Booklist blurb into a document and printed it. After throwing down some chicken scratch labeling the CDs, I was done.

Here’s a gallery of the DIY ITMS Audiobook

It turned out fine with pretty much no effort. I’m sure our tech services people could make it look very professional.

Here are some numbers regarding the process:

-Cost of audiobook from the ITMS: $16.95

-Time spent downloading the (6+ hour ) audiobook from the iTunes Music Store: 9 minutes

-Number of CDs: 5

-Time to burn each CD: 3 minutes each

Let’s say that the entire thing took about 30 minutes**. Processing a BOCD takes some time, but maybe not this much. Perhaps this takes twice as long. So, how much money would this extra 15 minutes save us? Well, in this case, sadly, not too much. Amazon lists this same item for $21.75 (plus shipping), and we could buy it from our jobber for $17.59. I suspect that there are a number of issues involved with these figures. Maybe some books can only be found unabridged from, say, recorded books. Perhaps it is the case that anything to be found, unabridged, on the ITMS can also be found through our jobber or amazon. I would love to be able to save money using the ITMS, but at this point I’m not sure it’ll happen.

Other thoughts:
It would be nice to have audiobook content on a computer, ready to be burned to replace scratched CDs. I suppose this could be accomplished by ripping CDs purchased, which would be a slight reversal of the whole downloading from the ITMS process.

One advantage that our current books on mp3 program, ListenIllinois has over downloading from the ITMS and circulating on an mp3 player is an interface. Take a look at ListenIllinois’ site and you’ll find that it looks good and works well. This wouldn’t be the easist thing for a library to replicate.

The key to all of this will be sitting down to figure out if there is unabridged content on the ITMS can be downloaded for less than purchased elsewhere. It seems like the majority of their content is from Audible (as is the case with ListenIllinois), but I don’t know if content direct from them is as easy to burn onto CDs. Anyone know?

*Except for the last section, which was short.

**Note: this is a relatively short book. All of this would take longer for a longer book.

2 thoughts on “proof of concept: circulating audiobooks from iTunes Music Store”

  1. Did you read the terms of service for iTunes, though? I seem to recall that you can’t burn a CD and then give it to someone else, even for temporary lending purposes. I think you’re in violation of their policy, which is where I think libraries get into real trouble. I’m not aware of a TOS for iTunes that takes libraries into account, which is a whole other issue. Too bad Apple doesn’t want to be the first mainstream online music service to work directly with libraries (other than the Naxos Classical Library, of course).

  2. No, I haven’t read the iTunes EULA. Seems to me, though, that with all the press the library in NY is getting we could hear about the illegality of this soon (if we were going to hear about it at all). I haven’t circulated it yet (so I haven’t broken any laws). But, I fully agree that it would be great if Apple worked with libraries. It would be (sadly) funny if Apple stopped libraries from doing something like this (or circing iPods with books on them) because I’m sure they’d take some heat. (Not that it would stop them).

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