Audiobooks on MacOS Catalina. A downgrade in listening possibilities

A strange (And annoying) feature I have found with the moving of Audiobooks to “Books” on MacOS Catalina. In our house we are big Audiobook fans, & have always enjoyed streaming them to multiple rooms via a mixture of Airplay 1 & 2 Devices. Now, with the new set-up, you can only send to one device, not even, say, your Mac built in speakers AND an Airplay device. Music can still be streamed to multiple Devices, the same as always, so this just seems either laziness on the part of Apple, or downright rude as in “Well, who listens to books in multiple locations anyway?”
I already moved my MBP to Catalina, but this one thing has stopped me upgrading my iMac, as it is lovely to have a Book playing throughout our House while using this (My main when at home Computer), for all the things one does!
Of course, open to any solutions!

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I suspect this has to do more with book licensing and royalty fees than with Apple’s technical capability.
If you get audiobooks from the library they have to track by listener as well. Don’t know why books and music are different, but….

I should clarify that the streaming is to multiple Airplay speakers & our Airplay enabled AVR, not something like an iPhone, so it is not to multiple people. I was using “Devices” in a broad context as it did include the AVR, not just speakers.
And I can listen to the same book via iTunes on my iMac / Mojave & send to all of these, but Books on my MBP only allows that book to be heard on one.

Note that since Airplay 2 was introduced, multiple speaker Airplay from a Mac was available only to iTunes. As Audiobooks and Podcasts were run through iTunes, they were available for multiple speakers. However, under Catalina, only the Music app retained the capability to play on multiple speakers. Because audiobook functionality was moved to Books and podcasts were split off to a new app, they both lost that ability.

Note that one other peculiarity of the situation is that only the Music app can recognize that a HomePod stereo pair. In all other views of available speakers, the paired HomePods show up individually on a Mac.


When you buy a digital book, you’ve only bought the rights to read it. You don’t actually own it. It can’t be given or sold to anyone else, and depending on the source you purchased from, lending is very restricted, if available at all. You can’t select and copy text or audio from it. You can’t make notes in the margins, underline or cross anything out.

Though publishers and distributors don’t want you to think of eBook purchases this way, it’s really more like a subscription service like Netflix, Apple TV or Music, Spotify, etc. It’s a totally different business model than physical books.

Airfoil will send any audio to multiple airplay receivers. The clients (Airfoil Satellite) are free if you want a destination to be a mac, android, or many other choices, but the server is $30 (it can be installed multiple macs). I’ve been using it for several years to send audio hither and yon.

Rogue Amoeba | Airfoil: Wireless audio around your house


I understand all that. It is the same as Movies bought via iTunes. That is not the problem here - it is a matter of sending the sound to multiple speakers

Yep that’s exactly it. But why Apple should decide that only music needs to still be sent to multiple sources… well I find that a failure to understand how people listen to Audio of all sorts.

Incredible that they don’t even allow paired HomePods to “see” an AudioBook or Podcast - I mean, that’s their own product! Guess in that case we should consider ourselves lucky that, when listening to a Book or Podcast on a MBP or iMac, the sound doesn’t come out of only one of the built in speakers!

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Thank you so much :grinning: :+1:
I have downloaded the trial version to my MBP & will try it out later Today, but on the surface it looks perfect.

My recollection is that even before AirPlay 2 was introduced, multiple speaker AirPlay was only ever available from iTunes. Part of AirPlay 2’s improvements seem to be that builds in multiple speaker support, without that needing to be custom supported by applications individually.

I don’t think it’s a case of Apple deciding it’s only valuable for the Music app. I think it’s just that AirPlay 2 is their solution for streaming to multiple speakers, and it’s been around for a couple of years now. So they haven’t bothered adding custom multiple speaker support for new apps (such as Books). I agree it’s frustrating (as are a couple other aspects of Books taking over the audiobook function from iTunes).

But longer-term, this is a positive, as even before AirPlay 2, Apple couldn’t be bothered to add multiple speaker support to anything other than iTunes, including anything on iOS. This way, at least in theory, we should eventually have much wider support for multiple speaker streaming.

(As a side note, a work-around would be to change the media type of the audiobooks to “Music” and set their genre to “Books & Spoken”. Then you could play them from the Music app. But this is an inelegant hack, so if Airfoil works for you, I would definitely go for that.)

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Yes, you are correct, and that was always a frustration!

Books isn’t really a new app, just that they added audio books to it. Yes Airplay 2 improves things, but I have to say, Airfoil is perfect. Apart from letting me buld custom setups, it works MUCH better with my Denon AVR (Which IS an Airplay 2 device). Sometimes I had to close iTunes then restart it for it to “talk” properly to the Denon. Now, every time, If the Denon is in the profile, it switches to Airplay instantly.
Pretty sad that a third party App is needed to make something Apple designed work properly!

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