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Does anyone know of any software or solution I can use to listen to Audible audiobook files in Ubuntu? I'd rather not have to use Wine but I'm just wondering what other people have come up with.

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    Everyone who reads this, please make sure to contact Audible and ask them to make a Linux or web client. (I could live with a Flash based player in my browser. Better than nothing.) Consumer demand is the only thing that can make this happen. – Aeyoun Mar 12 '13 at 15:12
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    Nice to see there's still people fighting for this 2 years after I originally was =) too bad they still haven't done anything about it. – wajiw Mar 12 '13 at 16:50
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    I got the following reply from Audible just now: “I understand you would like to use Audible on a Linux computer. We are currently working with the open-source developers of Linux to see if we can make our file format compatible with their operating system. We would love to make our content available to Linux users as soon as possible, as we often hear from Linux fans regarding Audible playback.” – Aeyoun Mar 12 '13 at 22:35
  • I got the following reply from Audible just now (2 years further on), wording subtly different, message same: "I understand that you would like to access the audiobooks on your Linux. I'll be glad to help you today! At this time, we are working with the open-source developers of Linux to see if we can make our file format compatible with their operating system. If that happens, we do expect to expand our support to Linux computers in the future. We would love to make our content available to Linux users as soon as possible, as we often hear from Linux fans regarding Audible playback. " – Williams Jun 3 '15 at 12:14
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If the internet sources I found are correct, Audible uses a DRM solution known as "Apple FairPlay" (which is everything but fair play, of course...).

There seems to be no way to listen to Audible .aa files in Ubuntu directly, but some other disappointed customers have found solutions to convert them to something usable:

Note: Audible says it actively works on linux support, but from what I read on-line they have been saying that since forever. Maybe you need to remind them about it... ;)

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  • Looks like they deleted the "actively works on linux support" answer. Here is one that says "No" for linux. audible.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/6409/kw/linux – Elijah Lynn Jun 1 '17 at 16:16
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    Cloud player does in fact work on Linux now, it also syncs your position from your Android device. askubuntu.com/a/696934/11929 – Elijah Lynn Jun 1 '17 at 16:36
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    Why was this answer accepted when @Luc's answer explains exactly how to "listen to Audible .aa files in Ubuntu"? No crappy Virtualbox VM or special "audio tools" are required. This answer should be deleted, as it's simply wrong and helping to obscure the correct answer. – Cerin Dec 17 '17 at 2:16
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    @Cerin Because when it was accepted 6 years ago there was not any better answer. The one who accepted does not seems to use AskUbuntu now unfortunatelly, Otherwise we might ask him to change. – Arpad Horvath Sep 15 '18 at 17:38
  • Now it's even worse. They don't even answer the question anymore.. or at least the audible link doesn't work anymore. @ElijahLynn – Joschua Nov 19 '19 at 21:00
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Update August 2020:

They removed .aa files from the website, you can now only download .aax. Support confirmed that .aa files are no longer available for download and recommends to install their tracking app instead.

The .aax files can also be converted with ffmpeg, but you need your unique "activation bytes":

ffmpeg -activation_bytes AABBCCDD -i YOURBOOK.aax -codec copy OUTPUT.aac

The activation bytes can be found by a few methods:

  • Temporarily install the app and grab the /data/data/com.audible.application/files/AudibleActivation.sys file. Because Android hates it when people can access their own files, you probably need root to do this. Then use either this script, or just grab the first four bytes as hexadecimals in little-endian (backwards notation; reverse them).
  • Using the Audible Activator. This didn't work for me, perhaps because I am using Audible Germany, but it has been a while and it seems to work for other people.

Original method for .aa files:

In your library, near the right top corner, you can select "Normal Quality" (formerly called "Format 4"). The download links will change to .aa files. From what I understand, they're a weird kind of mp3 which is easily converted using ffmpeg. This option (to pick Format 4) is only available if your browser's user agent looks like a Linux system.

To convert .aa files to MP3, the simplest way (easiest to remember) is this:

ffmpeg -i downloaded_file.aa output.mp3

The -i option just specifies the input file. The output file needs no option. This will, however, will re-encode the file (losing a little bit of quality, and it's slow).

It is better (10× faster) to use the 'stream copy' feature:

ffmpeg -i downloaded_file.aa -codec copy output.mp3

Please do not use this for piracy. If this is used for illegal copying, Audible will just disable downloading these files and make life a bitch for everyone (except for the pirates: they will always find a way, e.g. loopback recording, which is annoying, but it works). I am posting this to make it possible to use free software to read your books, and to be able to use apps like Smart AudioBook Player (which has more features and is not locked to a single vendor).

Warning to pirates: they leave markers in files so it can be traced back if someone uploads it. These markers are impossible to hear. Of course they're not telling us what they do exactly, but I've read scientific papers where they managed to find the markers very reliably even after they mangled the files into different formats, played at variable 0.9-1.1x speed, etc. See these Google Scholar results as example.

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    This should be the correct answer – JSON C11 Jun 1 '18 at 6:19
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    The newer file format is *.aax, which doesn't appear to work with ffmpeg, but AAXtoMP3 works well for me. – Sparhawk Feb 12 '19 at 1:08
  • @Sparhawk Nice, thanks for the tip! Happy to have a future-proof option in case they ever kill aa files. (Not that I notice the quality of aa files is worse than anything else, I don't see why a new format is needed in the first place, but since they have it, this tool is good to have!) – Luc Feb 12 '19 at 8:01
  • I don't think it's about quality, but DRM. :( The new process (as detailed in the link) requires your unique identifier to decode the file. – Sparhawk Feb 12 '19 at 8:32
  • @Sparhawk Ah, right, now that you mention it I remember looking into decoding that and not being able to find my identifier. Eventually I found that I could download an older format which ffmpeg can read, and posted this answer. I should try that again and update the answer to mention this alternative. – Luc Feb 12 '19 at 8:37
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Note: this solution has been originally tested for Ubuntu 14.04 LTS with Firefox 42.0. I tested it again with the new Firefox Quantum 57.0.4 64 bit (still Ubuntu 14.04 LTS) and it still works. Other users are reporting that the cloud player is not working on later versions of Ubuntu with different browsers.

Audible made available a cloud player allowing subscribers to listen to their audio-books library from a web browser.

I tested it on Ubuntu 14.04 LTS with Firefox 42.0 and it worked nicely. In order to open the cloud player, from the homepage, just go to your Library. There you will find the list of your books. Under the cover of each book you will find the Play button, just click on it.

Note: as cloud player, you cannot use it when offline. Hence, not an ideal solution but it is an improvement.

Audible Cloud Player

My Library - Play Button

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    Also note that it syncs the position of your Android device. – Elijah Lynn Jun 1 '17 at 16:37
  • Doesn't work with Chrome on Debian today. Says it's loading and then gives up. – RichieHH Sep 22 '17 at 18:28
  • I tested it with the new Firefox Quantum and it seems to be working. Have you had the chance to try it again? I was just wondering if it was a temporary issue with Audible website. – curi0us-m0nkey Jan 15 '18 at 7:31
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You can use mplayer in terminal. I'm personally using it in Arch but it will work on ubuntu also.

mplayer /path/to/audiblefile.aa

If you do not have have it installed. Install it using

sudo apt update && sudo apt install mplayer

or follow the instructions on their website to compile and run it from source.

Alternatively for a GUI, you can just open the file in VLC Player

sudo apt update && sudo apt install vlc
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  • With mplayer it works for me. If I use VLC, it can play from the beginning, but if I jump to another position it stops to play the file. VLC 3.0.2, Debian 9.4, Xfce 4.12 – Arpad Horvath Sep 15 '18 at 17:11
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I use OpenAudible. It is a simple, and easy-to-use software which you can use to convert audible files to .mp3.

https://openaudible.org/

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You can convert it to mp3 using wine + Audible manager + some custom software + ffmpeg

https://github.com/itayperl/aa2mp3

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Using mplayer to play aa files from audible works for me.

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    @ssprac I recommend editing this to clarify what you are recommending (right now, it sort of looks like a question rather than an answer). If possible, please also include detailed information about how you did it. – Eliah Kagan Jan 11 '17 at 19:03

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