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Dear Jane

Buying Books on the iThings Now that the Catalogs Are Gone

Buying Books on the iThings Now that the Catalogs Are Gone

As of today, all of the book apps that work on Apple devices (iPhone, iPad, iTouch = iThings)  have been stripped of the their in app catalogs and buy links.  The apps are not to mention why the catalogs or buy links have been removed and the apps cannot mention how to create an account or buy books even the app does not give a direct link.*

So how the heck do you get books onto the app itself?  This procedure is called sideloading and it’s fairly easy.


Apple has not removed the apps ability to sync purchases.  This means if you buy a book from BN, Kobo, or Amazon, you can use the automatic sync feature.

a.  Kindle You can still access all your purchases through the “Archive” link.  These are any books you’ve purchased but not downloaded to the App.

Kindle App Archived Items

b.  BN.  On the home page of the nook App, there is a small “ebook” dropdown.  Tap and it will bring up a filter. You can toggle between your downloaded books and those that are archived.   On the iPad, look for “archive” under “All Items” dropdown box.

Nook ebook archive filter

c.  Kobo.  *Kobo has gotten around this a bit by adding instituted a “Kobo News” feature which runs the Kobo blog posts.  Through the blog posts, you can easily find a link to the site.  Your Kobo purchases should be found in your library.  If they are not, you need to “refresh” your library.  If you have a number of books that you have purchased but are not in your “library” then it may take a few minutes for the library page to refresh.

Kobo app pull to refresh library

 Remember that any book you purchase from these companies are saved on their servers and deleting a book from your iThing only removes it from your device.  The Archive or Library is where you can access books you have purchased but removed from the devices.

Sideloading without a USB

Send an email to yourself.  If you have an ePub purchased from Kobo, Sony or BN, you can email yourself the book by attaching the file to an email. You can find  the files in your “My Documents” (PC) or “Documents” (MAC) folder.  Remember to email yourself the EPUB file and not the ACSM file.

epub v. acsm

You must choose TXTR or Bluefire Apps to read your DRMed files.  Do not email yourself a Kindle file.  You will get an error message that directs you to redownload it from your archived items.  If you have purchased a non DRMed MOBI, you can send yourself the mobi file as an attachment.

Use Calibre.

Using Calibre is essentially the same as emailing yourself an attachment, only this is more automated.  To set up this feature, click “Preferences”, and look for “sharing books by email.”

sharing books by email

Click on the icon and then add your email address by clicking on the “add email” button on the left side.  Then enter the “send email from” address. This will be the email address that will send you the book. It can be the same email address that receives it.  I.e., jane at as the send from email and jane at as the recipient is perfectly fine.  Set this email as default.

Kovid, the creator of Calibre, recommends you use GMAIL as the sender of your books. If you don’t have a GMAIL account, you can set one up just for this purpose.

Because of the large amount of spam in email, sending email can be tricky as different servers use different strategies to block email spam. The most common problem is if you are sending email directly (without a mail relay) in calibre. Many servers (for example, Amazon) block email that does not come from a well known relay. The easiest way around this is to setup a free GMail account and then goto Preferences->Email in calibre and click the “Use Gmail” button. calibre will then use Gmail to send the mail. Remember to update the email preferences in on your Amazon Kindle page to allow email sent from your Gmail email address.

Once you have the gmail account created and the mail server in Calibre setup, click apply and close.  Now go and select a file.  Right click and select “Connect/Share”.  Your email address should show up.

Email to feature in Calibre

You can send yourself DRM’ed epubs this way but again, no Kindle books.  Non DRM’ed Mobi and ePubs work the best.

Sideloading with a USB

To sideload using an iThing, you have to use iTunes and a USB cord. Once iTunes is open, navigate to Apps tab.

iTunes App tab

Scroll to the bottom under sync apps and the screenshots of your iThing to where it says “File Sharing”. On the left will be a list of Apps that allow you to add books and other files and on the right is a blank area where you will drag and drop your ePub files.

File Sharing iTunes section

As you can see here, I have Kobo, Stanza, Bluefire, and Borders. Only Bluefire will accept books that have a software lock called DRM. The rest of the apps will accept non DRM’ed epubs only. The nook app does not allow sideloaded books.  Select the app that you want to use to read your ePub by clicking your mouse on it. It should be highlighted. Then drag and drop the epubs you want to read onto the area on the right.

Sync your device and eject when complete.  (Complete instructions including using iBooks here)

Sideloading Using the Cloud

I covered this last week but basically you upload all your books to an online storage system like Dropbox, SugarSync or the like and then access the storage system from your iDevice, download and use the “Open In” feature.  Same caveats apply as above. Bluefire and Txtr for the DRM’ed epubs.  Non DMR’ed epubs and mobi formats for the rest of the apps. Nook does not allow you to sideload using any of the above mentioned features.


Now that your store has been taken away because of Apple’s rules, you will need to use Safari to visit your favorite ebookstore and make your purchases.  One easy way to do this is to make a bookmark on your home page.  The “home” pages are the pages where the App icons live.  Open Safari on your iThing and then type in your ebookstore.  Once it loads, hit the arrow in the box icon:

Add to Home Screen arrow in box

Select the “Add to Home Screen” choice.  Rename your bookmark and then check your home page.

Dear Jane: Is there any way around the whispersync charges on Amazon?

Dear Jane: Is there any way around the whispersync charges on...

Dear Jane is a column wherein you write in questions about ebooks and I try to find an answer. If you have a question, send it to jane at dearauthor dot com.

Dear Jane:

I’m a fairly new e-book convert. I first bought my Kindle to use when I travel, but now I find myself using it all the time. I love it! And no little thanks to the great info you’ve been putting up on e-books and e-readers over the years. Thanks!

However, as my e-book purchases become more and more, I’m becoming increasingly frustrated with the additional fees Amazon imposes on all international customers. Supposedly it’s for their costs of 3G outside the US, but I have a WiFi only kindle, so that makes no sense. Even people using the kindle apps for PC etc have to pay these fees. 2$ may not seem like a lot per book, but it really accumulates, and I find it annoying to think that it all goes straight into Amazon’s pocket, with no money for the authors. For cheaper e-books or novellas that in the US cost 0.99$, we end up paying more than three times as much (the e-book VAT is also higher in Europe).

Do you have any suggestions for us international e-book lovers? Should we abandon the kindle? Can Amazon be made to see reason?

Best regards,


Dear S:

Your short answer is not to use WhisperSync which is obviously ridiculous because Amazon should not be selling a device with wifi that makes virtually all downloads have a $2.00 tax. In some cases, like for those $.99 books, that tax is 200% the price of the book.

But the best way to incur no additional charges is to turn your wifi off and download and install your books via the USB. Select “Transfer via computer” before clicking on the “Send to device” command. Many books include the VAT and free international wireless delivery. (Screenshot while I pretend to be from Sweden)

Courtney Milan's Unlocked Kindle price international

But, again, what is the point of having a wifi device if you can’t use it? The next easiest thing to do appears to be to change your Country Settings. Under Manage Your Kindle, look for “Country Settings”

Change your country settings

Enter a new country of residence.

Change country


You don’t have to have a credit card associated with your account. Instead, buy yourself giftcards and use the Amazon gift cards to fund your Kindle Account. You may have to have a separate account just for your Kindle if you buy a number of things from Amazon other than ebooks. One way to get yourself US bookcards is to get a US friend to send you the giftcard. (You can pay them via Paypal). One person on Dear Author once stated that gift cards were a good way to limit spending on the account as well.

Amazon can check where you come from based on your IP address, but others report that this has been successful for them.  A person in this thread, however, was only able to download 7 books before Amazon caught on.

Here’s a website where you can check what level of Amazon support you have depending on the country you live in. For example, New Zealand allows you to use the 3G Whispernet service for free and has no $2 surcharge.

New Zealand support


Whereas Sweden offers free 3G service, but also has the $2 surcharge.

Sweden informationAccording to posters at Mobileread, the $2 surcharge is slowly disappearing for residents of various countries.  They surmise this is due to deals Amazon is making with local telecoms.

This applies only to books purchased at Amazon, though.  For use of the personal document delivery service, Amazon is charge$.99 USD per megabyte. (See e.g., the account of this Indonesian Reader)

In answer to your last question about whether you should drop the Kindle altogether, it’s a good one.  One of the biggest advantages of the Kindle is its ability to move you away from the personal computer altogether.  You can load your books onto your device using the personal document delivery service (emailing books to yourself) and you can wirelessly sync your books.  But if it costs you $2.00 per book, then the whispernet is more annoyance than advantage.

The Kobo Touch Reader is international.  It’s store is international. It doesn’t have a $2 surcharge and does have syncing capabilities between mobile devices like an Android or iPhone and the Kobo itself.  You can buy books directly from the Kobo and download them to your device at no charge.  The drawbacks for the Kobo is that you can’t take notes on books that you don’t purchase from Kobo (or use a dictionary for those non Kobo store books).

The Sony Reader is a tethered device (meaning you can’t get books onto the device without a cord) but it’s got one of the best organizational setups on an ebook reader, not to mention it’s a gorgeous looking  device.

Without Whispersync, the other touch screen devices might suit you better, but you’ll probably be just as tethered to your computer with other devices as you are with your Kindle.