With the first iPad came iBooks, Apple’s default e-book reader for Macs and iOS devices. iBooks has always been somewhat quirky when it came to using local files. Of course, it worked fine with books that were purchased from the iBooks Store. But if you wanted to load your own PDF or ePub files into iBooks, you had to jump thru a series of hoops to make it work correctly. And if you wanted to sync those files between multiple devices, you had to rely on good old-fashioned iTunes syncing to get the job done. With the recent release of iOS 9.3, Apple added support for iBooks syncing via iCloud. This makes it possible to load your DRM-free files into the iBooks app on any device and then access them on all of your iCloud-enabled products.
I’ve done some testing with iBooks sync today and so far, it’s worked as expected. Here’s the steps I followed to set it up:
- Make sure all devices are running their latest operating systems. OS 10.11.4 for Mac and iOS 9.3.1 for mobile devices.
- Check the iCloud preferences for all devices and make sure iBooks syncing is turned on.
- Launch the iBooks app on each device and enter your iCloud username/password if prompted.
- Add ePub or PDF files to one device. This will transfer the files into your iCloud Drive.
- Check iBooks on other devices. You should now see these titles available for download.
iBooks sync uses your iCloud Drive to store the files in the cloud until you choose to download them onto a device. With the old iTunes sync method, book files would be copied onto the mobile device and stored there. iCloud sync mimics the functionality of purchasing books thru the iBooks Store, so you don’t have to use up valuable on-device storage if you don’t want to.
While my experience with iBooks sync has been good, it hasn’t been a smooth transition for everyone. If you’re managing a very large library of books, you may run into some challenges. Hopefully, Apple will address this issues in the next iBooks update.