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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.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Christine M.
    Jul 31, 2011 @ 08:22:43

    Wow, I didn’t know about the rest of the new Apple rules re: the apps. No surprise most customers(e.g. those who are not in the know) are annoyed/pissed at Kobo/Amazon/etc. Apple’s really being a bitch.

    ETA: Is there a special reason all my posts have been moderated in the last few weeks? Is this systematic now or have I done something stupid without noticing? Just wondering.

  2. Vanessa Jaye
    Jul 31, 2011 @ 10:42:12

    So if I buy at Amazon & have it sent to my phone, then open up the kindle ap on the iPhone, it will still download/sync? Does it stay on the phone, or do I have to go to archives everytime to retrieve the book?

    I thought this was just about stripping the buy link from the ap, I didn’t realize they’d be removing content and making it difficult ( almost impossible?) to add new content.

  3. Carolyn
    Jul 31, 2011 @ 10:52:28

    I downloaded a book this morning to the Kindle reader. When I opened the Kindle app on my phone, it synced and added the book to the archive on the phone.

    When I first got the phone and added the Kindle app, that first sync was a doozy – it downloaded every damn book in my Amazon account archive! Over 700 books, lol.

  4. LisaCharlotte
    Jul 31, 2011 @ 13:07:04

    I am delaying updating my app so i still have my purchase button. I buy all my ebooks using my iphone and later synch my kindle (which i always keep wifi off for battery life).

  5. Vanessa Jaye
    Jul 31, 2011 @ 14:24:21

    ‘k, you answered my concern Carolyn.

    Lisa — I haven’t updated my ap either because of this change, but at least I know now I’ll still be able to sync & read on my iPhone with very little disruption to the current process.

  6. DS
    Jul 31, 2011 @ 16:20:16

    Jane, want to thank you for mentioning the Pogoplug last week. I ordered one– $39.99– and downloaded the software and having a great time with streaming and downloading to my iphone, android tablet and UPNP media player. I still haven’t gotten it all figured out yet. I’m hoping to use it to do off site back ups and access to big files without having to carry them on thumb drives.

  7. How to add buy ebooks from the iPad or iPhone when I use a Kindle App | EBOOKSPT |
    Jul 31, 2011 @ 17:44:20

    […] How to add buy ebooks from the iPad or iPhone when I use a Kindle App How to purchase and read ebooks for the Kindle, Kobo, and Nook Apps on the iPhone, iPad, or iTouch… Source: […]

  8. SarahT
    Aug 01, 2011 @ 02:57:24

    Thanks for this info, Jane. I am seriously annoyed with Apple. They don’t even have an iBook store in Switzerland, so buying ebooks from other vendors is my only option.

  9. jayhjay
    Aug 01, 2011 @ 15:10:04

    This is not book specific, but if the new rules prevent in-app purchases without paying a fee to apple, what happens to ad supported apps? Most of these allow users to click to advertisers (and presumably purchase). Are those going away too? Or is this specifically links to the apps own site for outside purchases?

  10. iPhone App Creator
    Nov 03, 2011 @ 17:10:47

    My brother suggested I may like this website. He was entirely right. This submit actually made my day. You cann’t consider just how so much time I had spent for this info! Thanks!

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