iTrouble with iTunes
September 17, 2006 6:47 AM   Subscribe

All the audiobooks vanished from my iTunes library, and iTunes won't let me re-import them.

(I've tried searching Google, ipodlounge, Apple support Audible support to no avail.

iTunes tech support is almost non-existent. I've emailed them, and -- from past experience -- I know there will now commence two weeks of frustration where, no matter how many times I write them, flunkies will keep pasting the same useless info into replies. There is no other iTunes support besides email.)

Here's the story:

1. Several years ago, I bought an iPod and signed up for an iTunes account.

2. A couple of years later, I quit using the email address associated with that account. I tried to tell Apple about my new email address, but somehow signed up for a new iTunes account instead. I didn't realize that I did this. And it wasn't a problem, because all the stuff from my old and new accounts worked fine together in iTunes.

3. My 3G iPod died and so I recently bought a 5G (60 gig) iPod.

NOTE: those first three items might have no baring on what follows. I include them just in case they do.

4. Even more recently, I downloaded and installed iTunes 7.

5. After that, I was suddenly unable to play over half of what was in my library. When I tried to play those songs (not stuff), I was asked for a password. When I tried my current iTunes password, iTunes didn't accept it.

6. This lead to a two-week, unhelpful, email exchange with iTunes tech support (they have no phone number). Eventually, I figured out the two-account thing (see item 2, above), tried the password for my old account, and and worked. Those songs that wanted a password were from my old account and needed my old password. Somehow, the fact that I had songs from two accounts in my library wasn't an issue until iTunes 7. Anyway, now I CAN play all my songs -- from both the old and new accounts.

7. But then I downloaded a book from I tried adding it to my library, but it wouldn't import. I don't get an error message when I try to import it. I just choose Add Song to Library... and select the audible file on my hard drive. I click OK and nothing happens. It simply (and quietly) doesn't import.

8. I then noticed that all of my old audible files -- the ones that used to be in my library -- were gone. My guess is they vanished when I installed iTunes 7, but I can't be sure. This is the first time I've looked for them since I installed 7, and they're gone. They're still on my hard drive; they're still on my iPod. They're just not in my iTunes library any more.

9. I have tried re-importing them, but the same thing happens (nothing) that happened when I tried to import that new audible file.

This is really upsetting to me, because I MAINLY use my iPod to listen to audio books from audible. I've had an audible account for years, so we're talking about hundreds of missing files from my library. And I'm even more upset that I can't add new ones to my library.

NOTE: I tried De-authorizing my audible account and then re-authorizing it, but that didn't help.

I'm using the Windows version of iTunes.
posted by grumblebee to Technology (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What about switching back to iTunes 6 and waiting for a bugfix for iTunes 7 that may address this issue?

p.s. you DO have a backup of all those audible files, right? If not, I would stop and back up them up before doing any further experimentation.
posted by bcwinters at 6:53 AM on September 17, 2006

I will try that if necessary. iTunes 7 made some changes to my library (and files?) that only iTunes 7 understands (e.g. gapless playback), so I'm a little worried about uninstalling it and re-installing 6.
posted by grumblebee at 7:00 AM on September 17, 2006

Sounds like an iTunes 7 bug. I'm pretty sure if you took this into an Apple Store (with a Genius appointment) they'd be required to at least look at it. The best absolute place to leave a request for help in situations like these are the Apple Discussion Boards.

Also, you could give Audible a call/email, I don't think they'd be very happy to find out iTunes is horking their downloads.
posted by onalark at 7:00 AM on September 17, 2006

Thanks onalark. What's a "Genius appointment"?
posted by grumblebee at 7:04 AM on September 17, 2006

Also, onalark, where are the Apple Discussion Boards? Do you mean boards on Apples's site or are these third-party boards?
posted by grumblebee at 7:05 AM on September 17, 2006

Okay. Problem solved. I'm an idiot, but I'll admit to my idiocy here, in the hopes that it will help other people who are as stupid as I am (or stupider -- if that's possible).

iTunes7 removes all audio books from your music library and puts them in a separate library called Audiobooks. I didn't even notice that new library (previous versions of iTunes only had one library) until just now. I clicked on it, and there were all my "missing" audiobooks, including the new one.

It irritates me that iTunes did this, because I don't want my books in a separate library (other -- non-audible -- audio books are still in the music library), but this is a minor issue compared to the one I posted about. At least I can find/play my content.

Apple should know better than to monkey with the way someone has organized their files. I've spent HOURS organizing my library, and I liked it the way it was. Grr!

Anyway, thanks for the help.
posted by grumblebee at 7:17 AM on September 17, 2006

Ah, that makes sense. The hours you've spent organizing your library hardly seem wasted, since the Audiobook Library uses the same tags that your regular library does. And now audiobooks won't show up during random play, etc. I'd guess that the number of requests for this feature far outweigh complaints against it.

For future reference: by "Genius appointment", onalark meant that you should go to an Apple Store with a Genius Bar and speak to one of the Geniuses. You can get same-day appointments by going to the page on for your local store. There's a popup list of stores on the Where to Buy page.

And here are the Apple Discussions/Forums on Apple's support page.
posted by bcwinters at 7:24 AM on September 17, 2006

I'd guess that the number of requests for this feature far outweigh complaints against it.

Surely there are other ways to keep audiobooks from playing randomly. You should just be able to tag any file that you don't want to play randomly.

I'm really surprised about this. A system that re-organizes your files (without asking you) seems like a Microsoft sort of thing. It's that "we know better than you how you want to work" ethic that makes people switch to Apple.
posted by grumblebee at 7:29 AM on September 17, 2006

To make matters worse (as-far-as I can tell), there's no way to search both libraries at once. The "book" I downloaded was the latest "Ricky Gervais Show." I thought it was gone, becaus after importing it, I did a search for "gervais" and it didn't show up.

But -- even though, as you say, bcwinters, the tags in both Libraries are the same -- I have to click on the Audibooks library and do the search in order to find the file. There's no "search all libraries" -- at least no anywhere obvious.

No digg.
posted by grumblebee at 7:33 AM on September 17, 2006

Relax. Your files weren't rearranged. You even stated in your question that your files were still on your hard drive right where you had left them! They're simply displayed in a different spot in your jukebox program. They still appear in the same order, with the same tags and with the same sorting options that they always did, too. The world won't end, I promise!
posted by bcwinters at 7:35 AM on September 17, 2006

You could always use a media player designed for a PC, that lets you use the file and folder organization method built into windows. Winamp now has a Ipod plug-in, too.

Oh, and Yea for DRM!!
posted by Mr. Gunn at 7:36 AM on September 17, 2006

Sorry, our comments crisscrossed. Damn live preview!

You should certainly take this opportunity to complain in Apple's discussion forums about the lack of multi-library search in iTunes 7. Seems like a pretty lame oversight.
posted by bcwinters at 7:37 AM on September 17, 2006

bc, I'm not jumping up and down and frothing at the mouth (even though it may seem that way), but I do think I have a genuine reason to be upset.

I know the actual files are untouched. But since I only access them via the Library and my iPod, the "jukebox" listings might as well be the files.

Yes, I know one day I'll get cancer and the fact that my iTunes library isn't perfect will seem trivial. But as solo leasure activities go, my iPod is #1 on the list. Like many music/audio collectors, I have obsessively ordered my collection. I am used to that order, I have put a lot of thought into that order, I want to keep that order, etc. Apple's decision irks me because it's so unnessessary.

And I just checked and it's unalterable. Why can't I right-click on the files and pick a Library for them, just like I can pick a genre for them?

When Apple makes a decision like this, it also makes me not trust them re: future upgrades. When I install iTunes 8, what's going to happen? Is it going to reorder my Library again?

Sure, don't upgrade. That works for a while. I once refused to upgrade for half a year. Then all of the sudden, Apple wouldn't let me use the Music Store any more, until I upgraded.
posted by grumblebee at 7:42 AM on September 17, 2006

You should certainly take this opportunity to complain in Apple's discussion forums about the lack of multi-library search in iTunes 7. Seems like a pretty lame oversight.

Heading that way now.
posted by grumblebee at 7:44 AM on September 17, 2006

I just upgraded and I wish I hadn't too.
posted by grouse at 7:47 AM on September 17, 2006

Can't resist linking to my standard anti-media-organizer rant. I too am obsessive about organizing my stuff the way I want it, and I absolutely refuse to use what I perceive to be redundant proprietary software to do so.
posted by flabdablet at 9:05 AM on September 17, 2006

When I install iTunes 8, what's going to happen? Is it going to reorder my Library again?

Media Center is an ipod-friendly media organiser that will, as a default, not re-org your collection. That is to say, it federates across multiple user-selected directories, and then displays the files using metadata (both built-in and user-created).

However, if and when you decide to reorganise or aggregate your collections, then you can select any or all of the media and re-org them according to any combination of directories or sub-directories created from any combination of metadata tags. I've used it on occasion to rename 90000+ files at once and it completes the task, keeping a log of unsuccessfully re-org'd files.

For instance, I usually organize my completely tagged files as:
[MyType] / [Artist] / [Album] / [Track #]__[Name]__[Comment]__[LASTTAG]

MyType is a custom tage I use for Spoken Word/Music/Lectures etc
Comment is for remix or pressing data
LASTTAG is a custom tag I use to contain data about who produced ([Producer]) the track (if music), who is reading the track [Reader] (if spoken word), or who is the performer and conductor [Performer] and [Conductor] (if classical).

Not all media organisers have to be so cavalier about your directories. iTunes has a switch that lets you select whether it will or will not re-org your files during import, but it seems like re-assigning root directory genre classifications is something you have little control over.
posted by meehawl at 10:12 AM on September 17, 2006

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