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There are a lot of tutorials on how to load PDFs into iBooks, but none say how to backup or transfer them back to your computer. I understand there is a button to email them, but I probably have accumulated 100 or so useful pdfs on my iPhone.

I worry if I click sync books, it will erase everything I have on my iPhone and only use what's on my computer the first time I do it right? I have never synced it before loading the books.

Is there any safe reliable (hopefully native) way to preserve books and PDF that were loaded natively from iOS? I do not want to risk losing them. I'm using iCloud, does that back them up as well? Either way I would like to have an extra copy of them on my hard drive.

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5 Answers 5

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Grab a copy of iExplorer (freeware), connect your phone, open iExplorer, select your device, and navigate to Media > Books. All your PDFs should be there.
However they all have cryptic names and there's no QuickLook in iExplorer, so you need to copy them all and then look which ones you need.

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I did get it to work, you right click on your device in the itunes side bar and hit transfer purchases. –  rubixibuc Mar 5 '12 at 8:03

Even though you've already solved it, I transfer in between my iPad/iPhone with Dropbox. I usually buy a lot of books on my iMac that are epub or pdf that aren't in iBooks, so the quickest way to transfer them and keep them backed up is in my dropbox. When you install the app on your phone, you can navigate to a book and select "Open in iBooks". It's a really handy way to transfer things in between the devices.

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But can you go back from iBooks->PC? –  Pureferret Nov 12 '12 at 22:23
@Pureferret if the book is inserted into iBooks first (which usually only happens if you've bought it from the app store) but if you're buying a pdf or epub not from the store, then it's a lot easier to get it to your device and have the ability to have it backed up in dropbox as well. –  Spentacular Nov 26 '12 at 17:23

Why not select share from the document in iBooks, then send it to yourself by email, then the attachment can be downloaded onto any computer from your email?

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I just tried this and indeed it does! It is probably not the fastest method, nor the most practical to transfer many books, but it's probably the easiest. Interesting how nobody had answered this before! –  kevin9794 Apr 7 '13 at 20:16
I somehow don't get this option in iOS Mail or in iOS iBook –  Julius Sep 18 at 20:34

I'm using Adobe Reader as a way to store and transfer PDFs through iTunes.

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None of the suggestions help if you downloaded a file directly from the internet (say ORielly Books, or Safari Books), directly into iBooks. You can't get anything out of iBooks into Dropbox, or your computer, without shelling out additional $$$$.

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protected by bmike Sep 15 '13 at 2:45

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