Problems syncing iPhone to iMac with Big Sur

I listen to audiobooks on my iPhone. I have a library of audiobooks in the macOS app Books on my iMac. Some releases ago Apple switched iPhone syncing to Finder from iTunes. This worked well on Mojave but with Big Sur I have lots of problems:
– it only works if I reboot the iMac first and then about half the time
– it is incredibly slow whether the iPhone is connected by cable or wifi
– the sync insists on backing up the iPhone before syncing books. There is a “Skip Backup” button but this either does nothing or crashes the app.
Is anyone else experiencing similar problems?
Does anyone have a solution?
Can anyone recommend an audiobook app for the iPhone that can download books from the iMac?

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So far as I’m aware Books on macOS/iOS will sync and play audiobooks.

Yes, Books can sync through iCloud but as far as I can tell it syncs the entire Books library. Mine is about 250Gb and my iPhone doesn’t have that much storage. Is there a way to sync selected books that way?

Books will attempt to manage that for you, syncing the database but leaving the actual books on iCloud until you elect to download items. It’s not ideal, no management of this is available to the user. Books frequently claims my iCloud storage is running low when it is not. These things amount to a lack of clarity, It’s hard for the user to have confidence that the audiobook they want for a particular car trip, say, will be there.

Thanks, that makes sense. But it means I would have to pay $10/month for enough iCloud storage to house my Books library (which is over 200Gb). Not sure it’s worth doing that to avoid rebooting once in a while!
Of course, there’s no good reason why I need to keep all those books as I’ve listened to most of them. I could move them off-line and reduce the library size. Also, Books is about as bad as an Apple application can be, it has almost no functionality. I wish there were an alternative.

Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think purchases from Apple’s Book store count against your storage. The system just re-downloads from the master server when you sync to a device.

Documents you didn’t get from Apple (e.g. any PDFs you drag/drop into Books) are actually uploaded and do count against your quote.

So, depending on where you have been getting your books, this may or may not be a significant hit to your iCloud storage quota.

I have the same understanding. However, 99% of my audiobooks are from sources other than Apple.

We buy from Audible, as we have a really good Legacy deal from years back. We much prefer the Audible App on the iPhone(And, dare I mention, on my Android phone), but unfortunately they don’t do an app for Macs (I think Apple won’t let them). Going from the Audible App to Books just shows how bad Books is by comparison; heck, it doesn’t even allow for a slow fade-out if you have an AudioBook on a timer! Books needs a big redo, at least for AudioBooks.

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Books is about the worst app I have ever seen from Apple. It has considerably less functionality that the version that was built-in to iTunes. The person who wrote it, and I bet it was a summer intern, doesn’t seem ever to have visited a library. However, it seems to be the only game in town.

As well as omitting the metadata editing capability provided by iTunes, Books biggest fault is the storage of document data in obfuscated folders hidden in the users Library (~/Library). This places a hard limit in library size since large collections can not be easily be kept on external storage.

I have given Apple feedback on these issues more than once although I did not mention your excellent point about the difficulty / impossibility of moving the library to another location. Perhaps if others provide feedback here Product Feedback - Apple the company might notice (I know, fat chance).

The same criticism can be levelled at the Music app - for which reason I have switched to Swinsian.
For books and audio books I have used Waltr which places the files in the right place, and then delete them from the destination device when read / listened to. I used calibre to manage the books (not audio books) library.
Recently I have put all my books (not audio books) in iCloud and they then sync across all devices.
I have yet to find an ebook (epub) reading app for Mac or iOS which I find satisfactory - although I did try GoodReader for pdfs.
I should have added that I’m running Catalina.

Both the Music and TV apps allow you to store the media files (whose names are the actual titles of selection) wherever you want–on the boot drive or other locally connected drives. The location is defined in the Files tab of the Preferences for the app.

Unfortunately, neither the Books nor the Podcast app allows the same flexibility.

You are of course quite right, thank you.

It was not the music files themselves that were the problem (for me) but the image files etc which (as far as I could find out) could only be stored on the boot drive.

OMG, this is exactly my problem!! Everything worked beautifully in iTunes and now Books stinks. I download books on CD into oiTunes now and leave them as “music”. My iPhone refuses to sync in Big Sur & didn’t sync in whatever the previous MacOS was (Mojave?), either, not by wire or wifi. It’s making me crazy! I can’t get my “music” into my iPhone. Books doesn’t allow you to make any changes at all to its entries - what a sucky way to operate!