If you’re reading this article then you already know that audio books you buy from Audible can only be played though the official Audible app. Wanna play them on your MP3 player? You can’t. Wanna save them to a hard disk? You can’t. This is because all your Audible books are encrypted to prevent people sharing their books instead of buying new ones.

Paying for books is a good thing: I want to hand over a few quid for a good book but I do have an issue with ownership of Audible books. You see unlike physical books, you don’t really own Audible books after you buy them, it’s more like renting them. What I mean is that if Audible went bust tomorrow or decided to shut down, you would immediately lose all your books and they’d be gone forever. What a waste. I don’t want to risk losing my books, especially after spending hundreds of pounds on books over the years. I paid for them, I want to keep them!

In this guide I’ll show you how to turn your Audible books into mp3 files which you can store on your computer, play in any mp3 player, and do anything you like with (just don’t pirate them ok, remember that authors have to eat too).

The process of freeing your Audible books

  1. Get hold of your Aubible activation key This is an 8 digit password which will unlock your Audible files. Note that every Audible user has a different password.

  2. Download a book from your Audible library. The easiest step in the process: Only takes a minute and all you need is a web browser and internet connection.

  3. Decrypt the audio book. We are going to use a program called FFMPEG to turn the encrypted audio book into a regular mp3 file. You’ll need the activation key to get this to work.

Step 1: How to get your Audible activation key

Option A: The AudibleActivation.sys method

This method involves taking a file from your phone then using a program to extract the key. The phone must have the Audible app installed and be able to play your books. This is the method I used and the one I recommend you try first.

Option B: The AudibleActivator method

This method uses a program to grab your activation key from the Audible servers. You install the program, it’ll ask for your username and password, then it’ll show you your activation key.

Option C: The RainbowCrack method

This method involves getting the checksum for your Audible files, then using a program called RainbowCrack to discover the activation key. You’ll need a plugin too which containes rainbow tables for Audible books.

Step 2: Download the book from Audible

This step is super straight forward, just head over to Audible, open your library, and click download on the book you want to download. You will get a .aax file sent to your Downloads folder.

Step 3: Decrypt the audio book

The tool we will use to remove the encryption from your audio book is called ffmpeg which is a super useful tool for recording, converting, and streaming audio and video. If you haven’t got it already head over to https://ffmpeg.org/ and get that thing installed.

Here is how to use it: In terminal paste in the following command, making sure that you replace the following parts:

  1. replace “mybook.aax” with the name of your downloaded book
  2. replace “ABCD1234” with your activation key
  3. replace “mybook.mp4” with what you want your new file to be called

ffmpeg -activation_bytes ABCD1234 -i ~/Downloads/mybook.aax -vn -c:a copy ~/Downloads/mybook.mp4

If all goes well you should be left a with a MP4 version of your Audible book which can be read from any MP3 player.

Some notes

Here are some notes about the options we passed in for the ffmpeg command:

-i 	    Specifies the input file name.
-vn 	Tells ffmpeg to ignore any video channels.
-c:a 	Has something to do with the stream specifier, could relate to it being 
        audio rather than video?
copy 	Enables a mode called 'Stream copy' which skips the decoding and encoding 
        step for the stream