Ask Different is a question and answer site for power users of Apple hardware and software. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I buy quite a few ePub e-books from sources other than the iBooks Store.

I used to use iTunes to sync these to my iPad and iPhone. However, I’m trying to set up my iPad and iPhone to purely sync through iCloud, as syncing with both iCloud and iTunes gets a bit confusing.

Can I get non-iBooks Store ePub files into my iCloud iBooks library, so that they live there? (i.e. so that if I do a restore on my iPad or iPhone, I’ll be able to download them from iCloud again.) If so, how?

share|improve this question
Ah — my question may be a duplicate of this one:… – Paul D. Waite Oct 25 '12 at 15:46
Please close the question if it is a duplicate. – duci9y Oct 25 '12 at 15:51
Clarified question so that it’s actually asking what I’m interested in, and isn’t a duplicate. – Paul D. Waite Oct 25 '12 at 16:00
Excellent: I can't sync non-apple books to my Mac Book Pro, and I can't sync them to iCloud, so I can't sync them, nu? (except buying software from some unknown 3rd party in China?) – user57800 Sep 22 '13 at 16:22
As of iOS 9.3 you can now do this. – Fridaypants Mar 25 at 18:14
up vote 3 down vote accepted

This functionality will be support beginning with iOS 9.3. It will support syncing the entire library, including PDFs on any device.

Here is the Apple Support page with documentation:

Federico Viticci mentioned this on Twitter first.

share|improve this answer
Oh sweet. (Or alternatively, finally.) If Viticci says it, I have faith it’ll turn out to be true. – Paul D. Waite Jan 12 at 15:42
I’ll update if/when I find an official notice. – Nate Bird Jan 12 at 15:58
Here is the Apple support page: – Fridaypants Mar 25 at 18:14

You can email yourself the files, then from Mail, open the files in iBooks.

share|improve this answer
Good stuff. Will that get them into iCloud? i.e. if I open the mailed ePub file in iBooks on my iPad, will it show up in iBooks in my iPhone? – Paul D. Waite Oct 25 '12 at 15:44
Nope, that is only for purchased content. – duci9y Oct 25 '12 at 15:50
You have an alternative. You can now use iCloud drive, and access with document 5 or goodreader on iOS. It's not the same, but will make it possible to at least open them in iBooks. – nmdias Mar 6 '15 at 21:00

No, that doesn't work: there is no iCloud sync of the entire ebook file. The only thing that is possible with non-iBooks store ebooks is to sync the reading location and notes.

So, if you load an ePub file into iTunes/iBooks on a Mac and then sync it via iTunes to your iOS device(s), and if you have the sync option activated in all of them, the reading position and notes/highlights/bookmarks will be synchronized across them.

Note that in fact that's what happens with the purchased iBooks: it's not that Apple is saving your books on iCloud, just the record of your purchase.

share|improve this answer
"it's not that Apple is saving your books on iCloud, just the record of your purchase" - sure, although they also have the book file saved, just not saved once for every user who buys it. – Paul D. Waite Nov 6 '13 at 17:57
How do you get it to sync the Metadata? Is this automatic? Do you know how it does the match? An MD5 of the book bundle? File name? – Rich Homolka Jun 30 '14 at 2:46

This feature is now active in iOS 9.3, however it seems rather buggy. I've found my own ePubs will often not open properly, won't download properly or won't sync locations/bookmarks. Been fighting the things for days now.

If you do manage to get it working, please let us know how. (iCloud Books: Failed to Load Book Because the Requested Resource is Missing)

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.