If you have a series of audiobook CDs that you want to backup. What is the easiest way to do it. Well, you can use iTunes to back it up. You want to set it to use very small files. I normally go to iTunes/Preferences/Advanced/Importing and set it to MP3, custom with 32Kbps and 24Khz sampling rate. This can take a 6 CD collection that normally takes 3.6GB uncompressed or 700MB at high quality down to 100MB or so. The main issue I've found with iTunes is that it leaves with lots and lots of tracks (normally 130 tracks in a 6CD set). What I really want is a single 100MB file that remembers my position. However when I use MP3 Trimmer to glom together a bunch of MP3s, it doesn't work. Something about how iTunes writes the files causes it just to play the first track and quite. Ugh.
I found that "Fission":http://amoeba.com is a great MP3 editor and trimmer for making ringtones and cutting files up. This is great for ringtones as iPhone now support open ringtones. You use Fission to find what you want. it is lossless because it edits MP3 directly. Then you load into Garageband to product the .m4r files. Stick them into the ringtone directory of itunes and you are off.
But what if you have a bunch of Audiobooks on CDs. You don't want things in five minute chapters, you want a few big files. Then you need something that does the reverse. Something that joins files. "MP3 Trimmer":http://deepniner.net/mp3trimmer/ is more general purpose than Fission and appears to handle joining as well. Giving it a try now and it seems to work, but unfortunately, it isn't writing MP3s right. While iTunes thinks it has a 7 hour MP3, it actually only plays 2 minutes that is the first segment, so the copy isn't quite right. Too bad!
So in the meantime, I hope you have Parallels, I use the Windows program "MP3Merger":http://www.hitsquad.com/smm/programs/MP3Merger/ to do MP3 joining and that works well.
A little complicated to join, but you essentially choose Tools>Join MP3 files or press CMD-J, this shows a window and you drag and drop the MP3s to be joined together. They alpha sort this by default, so pray that your files work that way 🙂 Seems to work fast and great.