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How Do I Add Books to the iPad, iPhone, and iTouch

Adding books to the iPad, iPhone or iTouch (hereinafter collectively referred to as iThing) is done via a process called sideloading. You must use iTunes.

Step 1. Connect your iThing to the computer using the USB cord.

iThing USB cable

Step 2. Open iTunes. iTunes may open automatically when you connect your device depending on your settings.

iTunes in Dock

Step 3: Using iBooks. On the upper left hand side of iTunes is the Music, Movies, TV Shows, etc. list. There is also a Books link. Click on that and a window for your books will show up.

iBooks window

You can add books by dragging and dropping onto this window or use the File -> Add to Library command. Skip to step 7.

File Add to Library iTunes

Step 4: For all apps other than iBooks, once iTunes is open, navigate to Apps tab.

iTunes App tab

Step 5: 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. Kindle and nook apps do not read sideloaded books.

Step 6: 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.

It may be easier to drag and drop if you resize your iTunes window:

resize iTunes

Step 7: Sync your device.

Step 8: Eject and read!

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. Frank Lowney
    Jan 02, 2011 @ 11:09:16

    There are two other methods that should be considered. One is to access an OPDS catalogs with an OPDS-savvy app such as Stanza. You can even run your own OPDS server with the free, cross-platform application called Calibre.

    The other is iBooks-specific. You can include .epub files in an RSS feed and subscribe to that feed with the just as you might with a podcast. In iTunes, use the Advanced menu, select “Subscribe to podcast …” and iTunes will download the most recent book by default placing it in the Books Library ready to sync to your iOS device (iThing). It also creates a podcast channel that will provide you with the opp’ty to download any other books in that channel.

    A variant of method two is to download .epub documents from iTunes University. These go straight to the Books Library ready to sync.

  2. Janet P.
    Jan 02, 2011 @ 11:52:56

    I’ve also found that you can use an online cloud storage solution such as Dropbox and not have to plug you iPAD into the computer.

    Download the file from Dropbox to your iPAD and then in the upper righthand corner is a little arrow. Touch that and it will ask you what APP you want to use to open the file – select Stanza, Goodreader or whatever.

  3. Tweets that mention How Do I Add Books to the iPad, iPhone, and iTouch | Dear Author --
    Jan 02, 2011 @ 14:22:30

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jose Afonso Furtado, e_reading, Electric Type and others. Electric Type said: How do you add books to the iPad? Your answer here: […]

  4. Denise
    Jan 02, 2011 @ 15:28:38

    My son got an ipod touch for Christmas. He downloaded the Nook app and can purchase books straight from that. If in a wi-fi hot spot he doesn’t need to hook to a computer.

  5. Piet van Oostrum
    Jan 02, 2011 @ 16:32:36

    I can’t find “File Sharing” in my iTunes. Is this a version problem?

    However I have another way to get ebooks into Bluefire Reader on the Mac. Using the application PhoneDisk you can mount the iPod Touch/iPohone like an external disk, open the Bluefire Documents folder and drag and drop your ePub files there.

  6. Jusy
    Jan 02, 2011 @ 19:04:26

    I like the method mentioned by Frank. I use Stanza on my iPad and Calibre on my PC. WiFi enables Stanza to access Calibre’s Content server to pick up books from the Calibre library. I don’t need to use iTunes and USB cable :D

  7. brooksse
    Jan 02, 2011 @ 22:41:49

    I use my iPod browser window to download epub files via wifi. Either by connecting to calibre’s web server & clicking the epub file link. Or by emailing the epub file to myself and clicking the link in the email. And then select the option to open in Bluefire reader.

  8. orannia
    Jan 02, 2011 @ 23:05:22

    I only just worked this out last week when my wireless was down :) And I’m so glad I know it for the future. Plus, it’s handy if I’m synching my iPhone already :)

    Thank you!

  9. Tweets that mention How Do I Add Books to the iPad, iPhone, and iTouch | Dear Author --
    Jan 03, 2011 @ 08:41:56

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Elizabeth Moon. Elizabeth Moon said: RT @BacklisteBooks: How Do I Add Books to the iPhone, iPad, and iTouch? […]

  10. kbrum
    Jan 26, 2011 @ 03:09:00

    Thanks a billion for these tips.

    If it is not too late to add to this thread:

    The link below provides easy to follow instructions on loading up library e-books onto i-things using Bluefire.

    (although I wonder if anyone has already sent this link to you?)

  11. kbrum
    Jan 26, 2011 @ 03:14:36


    The trick step is dragging the .pdf file , not the .ascm file into the bluefire documents field (“area on the right”).

    The link above makes this step clear.

    I just got this trick today. 8-)

  12. Jane
    Jan 26, 2011 @ 06:54:33

    @kbrum Thanks. Bluefire is a great app.

  13. Frank Lowney
    Jan 27, 2011 @ 09:10:42

    Here are a few more methods for adding ePubs to iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch). If, in the (Summary > Options) you set it to “Manually manage music and videos,” it will then be possible to drag and drop an unencumbered EPUB file directly to that device in the

    Similarly, you can use Calibre to move an unencumbered EPUB from your Calibre library directly to an iOS device.

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    Feb 06, 2011 @ 04:02:01

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  15. Debbie
    Oct 26, 2011 @ 22:31:17

    I stumbled across this site while looking for help with my iPad. Thanks so much for posting these tips. You’re grrrrrrreat!
    I plan to look at the rest of the site tomorrow when my eyes are not so bleary from a need for sleep.

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    Dec 04, 2011 @ 09:12:35

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  19. Nikolai
    May 14, 2013 @ 11:33:40

    Idk, I don’t really like iTunes… It takes like 5 minutes to start it on my old-ass laptop. When you just want to get couple of books to your iPad this becomes frustrating. But since I found Phonestick at, it takes literally seconds to drag new books to my iPhone. They let you transfer 2gb for free which is a lot for books.

  20. Jeff
    May 16, 2013 @ 17:07:05

    This doesn’t work on my computer. My “books” site just asks if I want to sync. This used to be easy, but Apple seems to have messed it up recently and I can’t get part 2 of an Audible book to sync.

  21. Jane
    May 16, 2013 @ 17:16:34

    @Jeff: Have you used the Audible App? It’s superior to listening through iTunes.

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