iBooks: how to add books without connecting to iTunes

by nizejpodpisany

Adding third-party books to iBooks is painful. You need to cable your device (iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad) with a computer to sync books between iTunes “Books” folder and the application. I personally feel stressed every time I connect a device to iTunes. Syncing is slow and when it’s finished app icons are messed up almost every time.

Compared to Kindle’s 60 seconds, a cable connection is just outdated. The other thing is that with the iBookstore offering such a little selection of books, many people try to download their own book libraries collected before.

Two tips listed below apply only to pdf documents, so probably only iPad owners will want to try it. You can’t use them to send ePub files to iBooks, but I hope that will change soon. So far only Stanza is capable of opening external ePubs (as well as pdf docs as you’ll see in the screenshots).

I assume a book is already on your computer. What you can do is to:

1. Attach to email

When you send yourself an email with the attached book and open a message in a native Apple Mail application on your iPad, you are able to open and save it to iBooks.

iBooks: how to add books without connecting to iTunes e-Reading Software Tips and Tricks

2. Open from Dropbox app

If you have a Dropbox account and the application is installed on your device, you can open it and look for the pdf previously uploaded from a computer. In a latest update Dropbox added a possibility to open documents in third-party applications.

iBooks: how to add books without connecting to iTunes e-Reading Software Tips and Tricks


  1. xfze13 November, 2010

    you can send 3rd party ePub Books to iBooks, either dragging them to the iTunes Library

    OR (my choice): using copy trans manager

  2. Matt10 January, 2011

    Emailing yourself an EPUB file works for me (iPhone, iOS 4.2.1). Maybe the latest iOS update does the trick?


  3. Matt10 January, 2011

    I’ve also used Google Docs (which lets you upload any file type now) and “sharing” the file to my email address. That works too.


  4. Natasa14 June, 2011

    Thanks for this article but for those of us who can’t access Internet on the iPhone/iPad, dragging 3rd party ePubs into iTunes works like a charm, like xfze said. 🙂

  5. Guy18 July, 2011

    Hey ‘xfze’. I don’t know if you will get this reply, but I am wondering what folder you drop the .epub file into using copy trans manager?

  6. kapap16 October, 2011

    Hey ‘xfze’. If you get this reply, I have the same question as the ‘guy’, In what folder you drop the .epub file using copy trans manager?
    Every manager I found out about is about music, movies and audiobooks…

  7. Brian K12 December, 2011

    SUPER simple way to add epubs…

    Get Dropbox — Either through this link which will give you an extra .25 GB of space (http://db.tt/XKc4tHz) or through their webstie.

    Make an account with DropBox
    Install it on to your computer
    Install it from the app store onto your iPad (http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dropbox/id327630330?mt=8)
    Add the ePub’s to your Dropbox folder on your desktop

    Then go into the DropBox app on your iPad and go to the file… it’ll try and open it and be unsuccessful. But at the top right there is an arrow that once you press it’s the “open with/in” tab and it’ll give you the option to Open With iBooks.

    Presto– works perfectly.

    If you have any questions, you can reach me at the email provided.

    1. Eric OB26 November, 2013

      Excellent advice, SUPER simple and fast! Much thanks!

  8. Bobby N10 April, 2012

    The simplest way to transfer epubs without having to use iTunes

    1) Install BlueFire reader app
    2) Install iFunBox on Windows or Mac
    3) On iFunBox, click on “App File Sharing” in the right frame; then click on “Bluefire reader”
    4) Press “Copy from PC” and select the .epub file you’d like to have on your iPhone
    5) Have fun reading!

    Hopefully this works for you.

    1. Savvy25 September, 2013

      How is this simplest???

    2. TurcoRico2 October, 2013

      I ve got pdf file not .epub file; though, pdf file was also working for BlueFire.

  9. Salazar10 June, 2012

    without Dropbox over local (home) network may use free personal HTTP File Server by Massimo Melina. http://www.snapfiles.com/get/hfs.html

    Run HFS (just exe, need’t install, drug and drop epub file and then dowload in Safari on iPad/iPhone

  10. Ingo Lembcke16 June, 2012

    Why not use Calibre and the built in Webserver? Calibre is great for organizing, rating, DRM-removal with additional plugins (sadly not iTunes-DRM). There is even a plugin for connecting to your Goodreads-Account.
    If you do not like it, ok, that’s your choice, but if you do not know it, I would give it a try.

  11. Ingo Lembcke16 June, 2012

    Also, maybe because this article is bit dated, but I do not sync my iPAD over cable but over WLAN. Only the iOS-Update was made over cable and that was just for safety – charging the iPAD to 100% and/or connect it to charge should also have worked (iPad 3, latest iOS-Version).
    And so far iTunes has never messed up my icons, in fact I sort them sometimes through iTunes if I want them differently.
    That said I am not fond of the reliance on iTunes for this. I would prefer a single Application for iPAD/iPhone-Syncing and maintenance. iTunes is filled with too much features as it is, a fat Elephant of an Application.

  12. Guano30 July, 2012

    i fookin hate iPad. Why did i buy that piece of shit!

  13. Anti-guano29 October, 2012

    @ Guano

    Judging by your limited vocabulary, I suspect your difficulties with the iPad have less to do with the hardware than your IQ.

  14. Crapple iMoan9 December, 2012

    don’t give me the superior bull, Apple’s business model of forced upgrades is vampiric and evil

  15. guano220 August, 2014

    on my windows mobile smartphone i would already have that book opened and ready to read, but with the new iphone 5s it is dumb fucking hard!!!
    no way to use it comfortable without jailbreak!
    apple put all morons to the jail!


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