Q: How many times can you burn a CD copy of iTunes audiobooks? If it’s only once, is there any way around this?
A: This actually depends on the source of the audiobook. iTunes supports audiobooks purchased from either Audible.com or from the iTunes Store, and each has different policies in terms of how many computers they can be played on and how many times they can be burned.
Audiobooks purchased from the iTunes Store follow the same rules as DRM-protected iTunes music tracks: You can play them on up to five authorized computers, five Apple TV devices and an unlimited number of iPod and iPhone devices. There are no CD burning limits on individual tracks, although you can only burn the same playlist up to seven times. iTunes provides a subtle reminder about the intent of audio CD burning when you start to burn the same playlist a fourth time.
Once you’ve burned the same playlist seven times, iTunes will refuse to let you burn any more copies of that particular set of tracks, regardless of the order of the tracks or the actual playlist they are contained in. Since audiobooks would generally be burned to CD as their own individual playlists rather than as part of another larger playlist, this makes the practical burn limit for an individual iTunes Store audiobook to seven.
On the other hand, audiobooks purchased directly from Audible.com can only be burned to CD once. Further, Audible audiobooks can only be played on up to three authorized computers, rather than the five-computer limit for iTunes Store purchases.
However, burned audio CDs are not copy-protected. This means that once you have burned your audiobook to CD, you can make additional copies of that CD or you can reimport the audio book from the CD back into your iTunes library as you would a commercial audio CD. This has long been a common workaround for DRM-protected audio files. Although with music there is often a concern with potential quality loss, in the case of audiobooks this is generally not an issue.
Note that this only applies to burning audio CDs to listen to your audiobooks in a standard CD player. If you’re simply looking to backup your audiobooks or transfer them to another computer, you can burn them to an unlimited number of data CDs. Audiobooks burned to data CD will need to be imported into an authorized iTunes library in order to actually listen to them, however.