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