Opening “other” eBooks in the Apple iBooks Reader [updated]


UPDATE: Please see my post on eBooks: How to Free and Consolidate Your Digital Library for the latest information on getting BN eBooks into Apple’s iBooks.


Here is a fun little one that I tripped across on my travels down to St. Louis.  Ever since I first heard about the iBooks
iconapp for the iPad, I hoped that it would arrive for the iPhone. Although, I still really want an iPad, the likelihood of that purchase is a bit far off right now. However, I read voraciously on my iPhone and have been digitally reading since the early Handspring Visor

Also, one of the biggest challenges facing Apple’s iBook format is a distinct lack of titles especially in certain genres (Fiction, Science Fiction, and Fantasy specifically) This post offers readers an opportunity to get greater use out of the iBooks app, access to a much larger library of possible titles, and access to titles at a more cost effective basis than Apple’s iBookStore is currently offering with their pricing structure.


image from When Apple announced that iBooks
iconwas coming to the iPhone with OS4, I was thrilled.  While I always knew I would be purchasing an iPhone 4 ($199 is quite a bit cheaper than $629), I wanted to really see what iBooks
iconcould do that say the BN eReader , eReader
iconKindle Reader
icon, or Stanza
iconfor the iPhone. That said, I currently have eBooks in multiple online “bookstores”. Because I have been digital reading for so long, I have eBooks at:, Mobipocket, Fictionwise, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and I am sure I am forgetting about a few places. Heck in the past, I have used Microsoft’s Reader, Adobe Reader for PPC, Various Palm based readers and more… I have encrypted eBooks on almost every one of the sites I have mentioned as well.

Now, while Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne (a gift from Apple) is nice and all, I really wanted to see what one of MY eBooks might look like compared across the various platforms.  However, I didn’t want to purchase yet another book on a different service… additionally, my interest in leisure reading tends to drift firmly to Fantasy and Science Fiction for which Apple’s (and many eBook retailers) iBookStore is sorely lacking in titles because of its infancy… So, I had a few choices:


  1. Use one of the many websites available to strip the DRM off of a previously purchased eBook. No, I will not link to those sites.  You want them, find them on your own.  I prefer to actually pay for services I use and for things I want to own… Sorry.
  2. Attempt to use an eBook I have previously purchased that uses the same format as Apple’s iBooks.
  3. Go out and purchase an eBook on each service I wanted to compare… (costly and somewhat silly..) This post is not comparing ereaders, just about a cool opportunity to have a greater selection of books available for Apple’s iBook reader.

To me, my choice was obvious.  I have a HUGE digital library through My eReader of choice was in fact was eReader (and somewhat recently Fictionwise was purchased by Barnes and Noble to beef up BN’s fiction catalog). Way too conveniently by the way both Apple and Barnes and Noble (ala Fictionwise) chose the ePub format for their readers! Golden, but would it work to open an eBook purchased through BN or Fictionwise in the iBooks app? Read on!

How to Get eBooks from Barnes and Noble into Apple’s iBook App

Apple’s iBook only allows one to either download books right to the app itself (regardless of whether it is on the iPad or iPhone) or to leverage iTunes to sync the book to the device. In fact, most other eReading applications Kindle, eReader, BN eReader simply wish you to purchase the book from an online store, and download it right to the application on your chosen device.  Because Apple allows syncing via iTunes, and they opened the app to accept sync’d PDF, I wondered if it opened the door to other possibilities like syncing across other eBooks in the ePub format.

My test book was Gail Z. Martin’s The Summoner : Book One of the Chronicles of the Necromancer. I had recently begun reading this book in the BN eReader app. While it was already on my iPhone, there is no way to simply “open” it with a different application on the device itself.  So, I needed to get the eBook to my MacBook Pro.  Easily done.  Once you purchase an eBook from BN, it goes into “My Library” on the You will received a notice and email confirming the purchase and suggesting that if you wish to read your eBook, to open the BN eReader app on your device and the eBook will typically automatically begin downloading to the device.  However, this does not happen automatically for the desktop version of the reader.  So, BN provides you with a simply “Click here to download” to move your new eBook from the BN online library to your computer.

image from
Once you have your eBook downloaded to your computer, connect your iPad or iPhone (OS4 and iBooks on the device required), and launch iTunes. Now, Click on the “Books” link under your device and you will be able to see all of the eBooks and PDF’s on your iDevice.

image from
Now you will see a screen that looks like this:

image from
From here, simple drag and drop the eBook (in ePub format) from where you previously downloaded it onto the iTunes eBooks screen, and wait a few seconds… (seriously, it took about 5-10 seconds for my test book to popup…) as it moves into iTunes.

image from
Once you see it in iTunes, simply sync your iDevice and the eBook will transfer over to the device.  Open the iBooks app and read away.  While on my test, the eBook cover art did not appear as it should, all other iBooks functionality from animated page turns, chapters, table of contents, highlighting, notes, bookmarks, to the dictionary and other lookups all function normally!

So, if you were hesitant about “splitting you eBook library, refraining from getting an iPad or into iBooks because of the limited book and genre choices available… worry no more.  I wish you luck.

Here is what the “Library” look like in the BN eReader and iBooks:

image from
image from





One last note: if you DO pursue the darker side of DRM stripping, or digital conversion from “X” to ePub these options are available, and they do work well transferring easily into iBooks once the conversion is complete. (As I mentioned, I have some very old titles, downloads [before direct app downloads were available] – Each purchased in other non-existent formats and since there is not an iPhone compatible reader available for them – I justify the conversion as I no longer even have the devices they were originally purchased for…




3 thoughts on “Opening “other” eBooks in the Apple iBooks Reader [updated]

  1. Pingback: Calibre – eBook Management and Conversion Tool « VanishingPoint

  2. Pingback: Easily open Barnes and Noble eBooks in Apple’s iBooks « VanishingPoint

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