Building Your Own Audible

Building Your Own Audible


Shawn Powers
Sat, 01/20/2018 – 08:35

A quick look at some options for streaming audio books.

I have audiobooks from a variety of sources, which I’ve purchased in a
variety of ways. I have some graphic audio books in MP3 format, a bunch
of Audible books in their DRM’d format and ripped CDs varying from m4b
(Apple format for books) to MP3 and even some OGG. That diversity makes
choosing a listening platform difficult. In order to meet my idea of
perfection, I need:

  • A system that plays any audio format.

  • A way to play books on multiple platforms, iOS Android and web browsers.

  • Current location stored and honored across platforms.

  • The ability to play audiobooks at different speeds.

  • An easy way to access my entire library remotely.

Several options come close. My favorite Android audiobook app, for
instance, is «Listen», available in the Play Store. But, it falls short on the
multi-platform front and also on accessing books remotely. Audible itself
will do most of what I need, but it doesn’t allow importing remote
books. And, traditional music players are out.

Honestly, Plex seems like the perfect platform for audiobooks. And although
some people do use it, they’re just kludging things. Plex doesn’t natively
support the concepts behind audiobooks, so the process isn’t smooth at
all. I’m honestly hoping that changes in the future, because it would
be a perfect addition to an already amazing system. Thankfully, in the
meantime, there’s BookSonic.

You’ve probably heard of SubSonic, which is a music streaming server that
allows you to do pretty much what I’m looking for with audiobooks, but it’s strictly for
music. Patrik Johansson
has forked SubSonic
and created BookSonic, specifically modified to handle audiobooks. It
even handles tagging and book art. Currently, the system isn’t perfect,
but it’s closer than any other projects come to book nirvana, and if
you use Docker, it’s dead simple to get installed. A simple:

docker -d create \
  --name booksonic \
  -p 8080:8080 \
  -v :/audiobooks \
  -v :/var/booksonic \

will get BookSonic running on your Docker host. Once it’s installed,
just head over to http://docker_host:8080 and log in as admin/admin. You
can start the book scan, and fairly soon, your books will show up for
you to start playing!

Many things about BookSonic do need work (syncing locations
to the web client and so on), but it’s a great start, and it’s a wonderful way
to access all your books in one place. Well, as long as you figure
out how to strip the DRM from your Audible books anyway!
For more details, head over to