Known problem with certain Audible books and Apple devices

iOS and iPadOS

I had a couple of short story collections from Audible that would begin stuttering or that would just cut out after a certain point. I sent in a problem report to audible and they sent me a response that all Apple devices up to and including the newest iOS devices have a limitation of file size with audio tracks, the problem I had was caused by encountering this limit. All Audible books longer than a certain time, something like 24 hours in Enhanced format will have this problem. Apple and audible are aware of the problem and Apple seems to have no real interest in fixing it. Audible suggests that one set the Audible library page to split the book up into sections, in fact they suggest dropping from the highest quality audio format to a lower quality format because getting Enhanced quality books to show download links for the divided versions of the books is inaccessible with most screen readers and the lower quality audio formats automatically show up as split books.

I find this really annoying as I have a very distinct preference for books as a single file and I spent a very long time redownloading my library when Enhanced format was introduced so I could have my library stored locally, with undivided books all with the metadata edited by me to make sure all of the books show up in proper order within a series instead of being scattered about listed alphabetically by title.

I could get sighted help to redownload the Enhanced books that are split after figuring out which books will be affected by this problem and then re-edit the metadata yet again for these books, but I really wish Apple would just fix this problem. I know that this problem doesn't have to exist as other manufacturers do not have it. How difficult it would be to fix, I don't know, but Apple has to decide it is worth their while to look into it before we can find out. I am hoping that forum members might consider taking a moment to go to Apple's feedback page and send a bug report about this issue. I know that there are others bothered by this, even some sighted users as I found a few topics on various Apple related forums, but the more Apple hears about the issue, the more likely they are to give it some attention.





Submitted by dvdmth on Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Club AppleVis Member

I have numerous long audiobooks in my collection, several that are more than 40 hours, and even one or two that exceed 50 hours, and I have never had this problem. I have listened to audiobooks from Audible using both supported method, the first being to sync the titles using iTunes and using either the built-in Music app or the Audible app to play them, and the second being to download the audiobook directly to the iOS device using the Audible app.

I am really surprised to see your problem, considering my own experience is the opposite of yours. I won't deny your problem, as you clearly are having it, and Audible and Apple are both aware of it. I'm just saying I haven't had the issue myself.

To help you out, I will mention that VoiceOver on the Mac does not have any difficulty accessing the part files for long audiobooks in enhanced format. There is a button to the left of each audiobook on the library page, whose name I don't remember, which expands the view to show individual parts below the complete version of the audiobook. You can then navigate to the newly created rows in the web table and access the individual download links for each part. Not the easiest thing to do, but it is definitely accessible with VoiceOver. This was not true under Mountain Lion, where VoiceOver had problems with the newly created table rows because they had cells that spanned multiple columns. That issue was fixed in Mavericks. I cannot speak for Windows screen readers, so they may not work as well as VoiceOver does.

Another solution you can try is to get the Audible app, if you don't already have it, and download the files directly within the app. Audible's app uses its own player, not Apple's, for titles downloaded directly by the app, so you won't have this problem with long audiobooks. You can have them sorted within the app either by title or by date, and titles you downloaded will always be at the top of the list. You won't be able to rename them and control the sort order, however, and the files you download within the app will not sync with iTunes. If you choose this solution, make sure to check Audible's app settings and make sure the audio quality is set to high. I believe that setting is set to low by default.

I hope this helps.

Are you listening to your books as one part in enhanced format? The problem is actually file size based and not length based. I will include an excerpt from the email I got from Audible CS at the bottom of this message. It describes the issue along with their suggestions. Perhaps there is something you are doing different that fixes the problem, something they don't know as of yet. If there is a workaround, particularly one that will work on my Nano, I would love to know. I have been collecting all of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series, which definitely all go beyond the limit, and I would like to be able to listen to them in enhanced, in one file per book and preferably on my usual player, the Nano. The thing is that I was certain I had played some books that go past the file size max, but I ran into it on a couple of story collections edited by George R. R. Martin and nothing short of following Audible's workarounds helped.

The only way I've been able to play the titles without problem is to either download them in parts or to listen with iTunes on the desktop. I do sync via iTunes, the latest version at that. But I am a PC user, not a Mac user and the only way to get the control to display divided books in enhanced omn a PC that I've found after trying three different screen readers is to shut down the screen reader and get sighted help downloading them. With a library approaching 500 books, many of which are past the file size limit, this could get very tedious. My main player for books is a 5th generation Nano. I hate having books interrupted by incoming calls and prefer to keep using the Nano for my player for all media that will work on it, basically everything other than Bard books Kindle books and movies since movies take up too much space. I tried using my iPhone 5s and iPad 2 using the iTunes app and ran into the problem. I did not use the Audible app as I did not know if I could use the copies of the books that I keep locally on my hard drive with the edited metadata. In addition to wanting to use the versions of my books that I have edited the metadata on using the sorting menu in iTunes, I am also limited to Wifi streaming as I share 1 Gb of data with my brother and sister-in-law and allow them to pay the majority of the data portion of the bill so that my sister-in-law can have access to most of the cellular data while in grad school. I really can't afford to pay for more data, so streaming isn't really an option for me. I am in range of Wifi most of the time, but there is still the issue of preferring my organization style over the default one. If Audible would let me upload the copies of the books that sort correctly, I could manage streaming, though again, that would force me to drop my nice, tiny Nano.

If I can use my downloaded copies of the books in the Audible app, I could use the iPad to play longer books, though I would still prefer to just keep using my Nano as my main media player. I prefer it for so many reasons. I just really hope Apple will fix the issue. I will be glad of a workaround, even if I have to use my iPad for certain books. Here is the section of the Audible CS email:

After looking in to this further, we determined that Apple iPod devices and other
iOS have a limitation with the individual file size that they can handle. As a result
of this limit, this is causing audiobooks that are 15+ hours in length, when downloaded
as a single file instead of parts, to either stop playback, skip or stutter at a
certain time in the audiobook.
Keep in mind that not all audiobooks will be broken in to individual parts. Usually
audiobooks that are longer in length will be divided in to parts giving you the option
of downloading that title as one file or multiple files.
To avoid encountering playback issues on your iPod; in the future for any title that
is 27 hours or more in length, please download those audiobooks as parts. It is also
better to change your download quality to Format 4 to see all parts of the books.
To change your download quality, please follow the steps below:
1. If you have not already done so, please log in to your Audible account.
2. Please visit the "Library" page. You can always access your online library from
the "Library" button on the top of the website.
3. Once you have arrived at your online library, at the top right area, locate the
"Audio Quality" field.
4. Once there, click on the drop down menu to view the available formats.
5. Next, please choose the format you wish to select. Simply click on your preferred
format to select it.
6. Now, please click on the "Download" button located to the right of the title.
Your file will begin to download or re-download in your preferred format
If you have your audio quality set to Enhanced, the individual parts will be hidden.
To display individual parts, click on the small black arrow located to the left of
the cover art. This will expand the section and give you the option to download that
title in parts. Once the arrow is pointing downwards, all accompanying parts will
have a Download button.
Should you have other questions or concerns, please reply directly to this email
or feel free to call our Customer Care at 1-888-283-5051 (USA & Canada), (US Country
Code) 1-973-820-0400 (International). We are here to help 24 hours a day, 7 days
a week.

Submitted by dvdmth on Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Club AppleVis Member

I am indeed using the enhanced version, file extension aax, and not the lower quality version, file extension aa.

I listened to every book in the Wheel of Time series, but at the time I did that series Audible didn't support single-part files, so I listened to them in individual parts. I have, however, listened to some books by George R. R. Martin in single-part aax format with no issues. I do not have a Nano, but I listened to the books with an iPod shuffle and my iPad Air.

You can use the Audible app to listen to audiobooks that are loaded with iTunes, including books not purchased from Audible, but for these the Audible player is merely a front-end for Apple's own media player, so the playback experience will be the same as with the built-in Music app. Therefore, if Apple's player is having problems, the Audible player won't be any better unless you download the titles directly with the Audible app.

I did some looking and found that there is indeed merit to what Audible is telling you. I looked at a couple of apps that generate audiobook files from individual parts, including Audiobook Builder, and it appears they all put a limit of either 12 or 13 hours per generated file. At least one source I looked at claimed that Apple cannot handle media files that are too large, which is why there is a limit on how big the generated files can be. Whatever the issue, it must not affect all large files, or be intermittent, because I have yet to have the problem you describe. I'm sure I may encounter it in the future, though.

I'll see if I can find a better way to get Audible files in individual parts, seeing as that may be your only solution for playback on the Nano. At least you have an alternative with iOS devices, but if you prefer the Nano, that won't help you.

Submitted by Toonhead on Wednesday, July 23, 2014

I only have one book that approachs this length,which is The Stand Complete and Uncut by Stephen King and I've never encountered this issue. I've listened on both an iPod touch 4th gen, and an iphone 5 and it was smooth sailing all the way through. At least Audible recognizes the issue, and has given some alternatives. It might not be the ideal solution, but it is one way you know it'll work without difficulties, and that's the idea.

Submitted by dvdmth on Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Club AppleVis Member

I spent a little time on the Audible library page. The button that expands the audiobook to show multiple parts is announced by VoiceOver as an image, called Show Parts. It is not detected as a link or button, but pressing it does work to expand the view. I suspect that Windows screen readers don't like the fact that it's an image and not a proper link or button. If you can simulate a mouse click on the Show Parts image, that might do the job. Someone who is more proficient in Windows screen readers might be able to help you figure out a workaround for doing this.

I am also able to download individual parts using Safari on my iPad, but there's no way to import to the music library from there, so you'll need some way to transfer the downloaded file to your computer. I am not familiar with transferring data from iOS to a computer, so I can't help much, but I guess something like DropBox would work for this?

In the end, this will be a pain, no matter how you slice it. You may be better off just getting the Audible app and downloading the books using it, skipping iTunes altogether. You won't be able to use your Nano, unfortunately, but at least you will be able to listen to the complete book without problems.

Submitted by RWolf on Thursday, July 24, 2014

I've not had this issue on either my iPod Touch or iPhone. I've dealt with several books that were 1GB or larger in size and none of them have caused the described problems. I can only assume it's something to do with the Nano's processing of these larger files, which is inconvenient. At least Audible knows about it and has suggested workarounds.

Submitted by Blindcat on Thursday, July 24, 2014

Thanks for all of the help and research. It seems the alternative methods are going to be the only option unless Apple decides the issue is worth attention. I find myself wondering if the problem is a hard file size limit, or if there are other factors. I am almost certain that I have listened to some books that are larger than the problematic ones.

One thing, if you haven't experienced this, don't feel safe from it. Read the information from Audible again, this is not a Nano problem, it is an Apple problem. I tried the affected books on my Nanoo which is 5th gen, a 4th gen Nano, a new Shuffle, an iPad 2, an iPhone 4, an iPhone 5c and an iPhone 5s all with the same results when using the device as the player as opposed to using the Audible app player. The books in question are 'Rogues' and 'Dangerous women' short story anthologies edited by George R. R. Martin. I cannot recall now if I ran into the same problem with 'Down These Strange Streets' another Martin edited collection that I am pretty sure was longer than the other two and that I seem to recall listening to without the issue. I also listened to a collection that I cannot recall the editor of called 'Tails of Wonder and Imagination', a science fiction fantasy anthology featuring stories about cats which was a very long collection and a large file without any problem. I've listened to epic fantasy books that run well over a day in playback time with no problem, so I find myself wondering if file size alone is the factor. audible was pretty clear that the problem was with iOS devices as well as pre-iOS devices. I just wanted to reiterate this so that those who haven't experienced this know, that it may just be that they don't have any of the affected titles and that the problem can be repeated on even the newest apple devices. I don't want to make anyone feel paranoid every time they buy a book, I buy what I want without concern just like I did before, I just don't want anyone else to have an experience with the problem and go through what I did trying to figure out what is going on. If you run into the problem, you will know it. The book will stop playing at some point in the latter chapters either in a dead stop or in distorted stuttering and eventually it will act as if you had finished the book normally. If you attempt to play any of the chapters after the last one that had any normal play time, the same thing will happen.
I am glad that there are options. I will likely end up figuring out which books in my library are affected and just waiting to get sighted help to download them all in divided form in enhanced format. Level 4 just sounds too hollow and thin to me. I still hope Apple might decide to fix the issue, but I don't know if they are getting enough complaints for them to feel it worth their while. I have read some complaints on general Apple forums, but since the problem only affects some audiobooks and isn't likely to affect anything other than audiobooks, the volume of complaints is likely to not be that huge.

Thanks again,


Submitted by Toonhead on Thursday, July 24, 2014

Why not just use the audible app on an iDevice? Sure, it's not the Nano, but if it's a longer book and if it's having these issues, why go to all that trouble when you can just download the books right into the app and listen that way?

Submitted by JT on Thursday, July 24, 2014

In reply to by Blindcat

I'm listening to The Stand, 47 hours, on my iPad mini in enhanced format. I'm having no issues at all and never have had this issue.

I'm using h the Audible app and don't bother about keeping things locally - that's not really the point of Audible is it.


Submitted by Blindcat on Thursday, July 24, 2014

In reply to by JT

If you use the Audible app as your player, you won't have the problem. The problem for me is that I do indeed keep all of my books locally. First, I have to keep cellular data turned off. I share a 1 Gb data plan with two other people who pay for the data portion of the bill, which I do not. I can use a bit of data from time to time, but not enough to be streaming media. I prefer the local approach anyway. Audible is horrible for organizing large libraries. Years ago, I got sick of hunting up which was the next book in a series when audible often failed to note this in a title and went through my entire library, which I have always kept a copy of locally anyway after running into having to have missing books replaced by audible, being cut off from my library during a power blackout years before smart devices and the cloud were the norm and so on, and I edited the metadata on all of the books. You do this by pressing control+i on thre book title and then navigating to the sorting tab to get to all of the important information. I edited the sort name and sort album lines of all of my albums and now do this after downloading so the books all appear sorted by title for single books and by series and in order within the series for series books. Since I relisten a lot, this is very handy and makes my life a lot easier when loading up an entire series to listen to.

Even if I had a decent data plan, I wouldn't do things any differently. I hate boredom and always prefer to be prepared for situations where I am stuck with what I have and nothing else. Power goes out, cellular networks have outages and slowdowns and so on. If I keep a load of media on my devices, I am set for as long as the batteries hold out whatever the situation. I currently have 40 Audible books, a handful of DVD audio conversions I did with DVD Audio Extractor, a bunch of podcasts and a bunch of music on my Nano. On my iPhone, I have a few movies from the iTunes store, a bunch of Bard library books, and all of my Nook and Kindle books stored on the phone.

If I could do the metadata editing with the ebooks like I do with the Audible books, I would, but even without that benefit, I just prefer to have what I own local. I am more interested in the cloud as backup for my media. It isn't a security thing, I know how secure most cloud services are. It isn't fear of data loss, again I know how good the track record of the industry as a whole is. I think as I have said before that at least some of it comes from having lived a lot of years in a rural location with regular outages and brownouts along with sometimes spotty callular service. I've experienced being cut off from my data enough times that I just prefer to keep doing things the old fashioned way. This issue only effects a couple of books, and while dealing with redownloading those books will be a pain, once it is done, it is done. I would just prefer to keep doing things the way I prefer. I can't see me changing my ways anytime soon either. Even when the day comes that my Nano dies and I can no longer get a player with the physical control I prefer, I would really need either unlimited data or a very cheap plan with a good amount of data and even then, I would have to give up my organizational system that makes finding my next book so much easier. Maybe if I didn't read so much, I might not be so picky, but reading is my main hobby. When I had enough vision to read, I was a speed reader and could go through several books a day if I wasn't too busy that day. even now, since I listen as I work and do other things, I've listened to three books in the last couple of days, admittedly, one of them was only about 6 hours long, but I really can go through a lot of media very quickly. So I would really just rather do things the way things work out easier for me both on the first listen to a book and the next time I go back and re-read it.



Submitted by Blindcat on Thursday, July 24, 2014

Oh, BTW, I haven't ruled out downloading and listening to affected books in the app on the first listen. I just still will prefer to download and edit the metadata on the books for future listens. I like having my nice, well organized library and don't care to have holes in series and things like that.



I can be more than a little OCD about my hobbies. Interestingly enough I am not so picky in other areas, but with hobbies...

I am the sort that drags sighted friends and family into helping me use the calibration software in my home theater reciever and who tweaks the positions of speakers to optimize the sound.

I am still a bit short of 600 books on audible, but I have a 3 Tb external drive that is nearly full. It holds my audible library, local copies of all of my music and digital movies, I have just over 320 iTunes movies, plus odd bits of media like the Bard library books I am waiting to listen to. The PC I use only has 500 Gb of storage, but I've collected a number of external drives. enough to keep all but my iTunes TV seasons locally and to backup most of the media on drives that are only connected when updating backups. I am saving for a new computer and plan on adding two Seagate external drives that are 5 Tb each. Amazon has them for less than $200 a drive. Will take me a bit, but I will get there. I actually want to get a wireless NAS to keep everything always available on my entire home network, but that can run as much as a new computer. Anyway, with 10 Tb, I should be able to download all of my TV seasons as well and have everything locally available with plenty of room to grow. Won't help me during a blackout, but will keep me going during the odd ISP outage or slowdown, which are way too common in my area.

There is a new feature coming in iTunes, i don't know if it is part of 12 or is still further out, but when implemented, one will be able to split one's iTunes library across multiple drives without needing to use RAID. I know one can add content from multiple drives now, but this feature is supposed to allow iTunes to look at all of the library as being on a single drive, even if one allows iTunes to keep one's library organized, which I do not, but I do download movies and such into the default directory, so this feature will help me out if the full size grows beyond one of my drives without me needing to do a lot of reorganizing.

Now, if only Apple would allow me to change the metadata of my movies and TV shows the way I do with books and have the altered data apply to the purchased media sections in my Apple TV. It would be nice to be able to have The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises together with Batman Begins in the menu or to place some of the little extras included with TV seasons out of the way at the end of the episodes list. Again, a little obsessive, but I enjoy doing a bit of work that makes things easier for me in the future. I would do the same thing with the metadata of my Kindle and Nook books if they would allow it.

I say, to each their own. I definitely understand others not caring about all of these organizational details, all of this is my hangup. I was this way long before my RP started affecting my vision. In college, I would have the usual sloppy student apartment, except for my movies and books, which were all in proper order. Just my own personal weirdness.



Submitted by Serena on Saturday, June 27, 2015

hi guys. i found this forum while doing a general search on google about itunes and audible, not wanting to atempt using itunes for anything related to audible till i knew if it worked well or not.
ok. few things.
first, ... dare i ask, how on earth! you guys have so many damned books! by my calculations, if you went by credits alone, you'd have had to have been a member for over 41 years! rofl. or, if paid for, at least 5 or 6000 bucks!.
secondly. i am using NVDA on windows. i can confirm, that when using advanced audio, simply press enter or space on the graphic that says something like expand to show parts. and there you go. it's not inaccessible at all. works just fine.
I'm actually giving downloading the book as one big part a go. i'm sort of used to books being split up by chapter, a chapter per file, much as daisy does. but audible doesn't seem to want to work that way. even split files, it's more like 1 file for every 6 or 7 hours play time. so, meh. lol.
I've only just joined the audible community, having been thinking about it for some time. it just seems a bit high priced, 15 bucks, for 1 book credit per month, and paying for the rest. but, i understand having to support the production work that goes into some of audibles work.
I only have 2 books, both are clive cusslers. 2 of them that i have not read yet in the NUMA files novels.
still, like i said. at those prices, i'm amazed to see people who have 5, 6, 7 hundred, or more, books in their libraries!

Submitted by Emma on Thursday, January 12, 2017

For ages I have had problems with Audible Books on Amazon. I have contacted them many times but their advice has never worked. A few months ago I decided to buy a really good quality speaker and ordered a Bang & Olufson BeoPlay A1 portable speaker - it was expensive but well worth the price. Audio books now play really well and no more jumping and muffled/background sound. I listen to lots of audio books and I am SO pleased now. I DO NOT work for this company and cannot guarantee it will work so well for you.

Submitted by Holger Fiallo on Thursday, January 12, 2017

I read books that are sometimes about 23 hours without any issues. I also download the book in my PC and hav it save in external hardrive beside iTune library. I am able to find any book in audible app just by doing a search in cloud library and download it to my iPhone and delete it after I finis reading them. Life is complicated already why not make it easy and just get the app.

Submitted by Karen Visser-Conradi on Saturday, September 9, 2017

I was researching this as I have come across this problem recently with several audiobooks. It's either miss or go, no way to determine if they will work before I buy them.
The theories I have read here do not add up, in my experience. I have always downloaded them in parts, not enhanced, so that cannot be the cause.
I have the problem with books from 3 hours and 12 hours, so the duration is not a factor either.
I can play the books in iTunes, just not on my Nano (not on my new one, and not on my old one).
This sucks! I am so used to be able to listen to audiobooks while on the go, this is really horrible.

Any new developments?

Submitted by ROBERT on Tuesday, October 10, 2017

I too have had trouble downloading books right to the app. I've found deleting the affected files, untoggle "finished sync states" and untoggle the two wifi settings ( this step may not be necessary). Then redownload the books, and toggle it back on when they are done.