After upgrading to OS X Mavericks, I added some ebooks bought directly from publishers, such as O'Reilly, by dragging them into the iBooks app. However, when I use iBooks on my iPhone, the ebooks aren't showing up. Is iBooks able to sync books not purchased via the iBooks Store? If so, what am I missing?

MacBook Configuration

  • 13" MacBook Pro Retina with OS X 10.9 Mavericks
  • iBooks ver 1.0 (build 169)
  • Settings > General Preferences > Sync is checked
  • I have performed File > "Move Books from iTunes..."
  • I have authorized this computer from within the iBooks app

iPhone Configuration

  • iPhone 4S with iOS 7.0.3 (11B511)
  • iBooks has both Sync Bookmarks and Sync Collections enabled
  • I have confirmed that I'm using the same Apple ID on the MacBook and iPhone
  • Adding this as a comment rather than an answer as I'm not certain, though I have emailed Apple a similar question. I don't think you can sync books that were not purchased via the iBooks store across devices. Yet.
    – user26787
    Nov 4, 2013 at 21:30
  • @gentlemanhog — Let me know what you find out. I was afraid that might be the answer. Nov 4, 2013 at 21:56
  • (Almost 3 years later!) Yes, you can now sync ePubs (and PDFs) not purchased via the iBooks store across devices provided you have an iCloud account.
    – user26787
    Sep 6, 2016 at 18:49

5 Answers 5


You have to use iTunes.

Open iTunes, click on your device and then choose the Books tab. There you can select which books you want to sync to your iOS device.

It appears to sync your pages placement too.


I had this same problem. I was seeing it in iTunes, but continued to see it when I upgraded to Ventura where finder is used to sync. Originally, I thought it was because I was running an older version of the OS, but when I upgraded the problem persisted. For a long time I got around the problem by using air drop to sync the eBook to my iphone or ipad. I just recently noticed that in my iCloud settings, sync books was turned on (which I didn't want because I have a lot of ebooks and I don't want them all synced to my mobile device). When I turned off ebooks in my iCloud sync setting, all of my eBooks in the Books app started showing up again as options for syncing.


I assume the book in question doesn't show up in iTunes when syncing your iPhone?

You have to get the epub onto your iPhone and open it with iBooks. I used Dropbox to get it on there, I assume Mail would also work. If it states that it can't show epub files, just use the share button to open with iBooks.


I’ve been having a hard time with this as well. Basically the only work around solution I’ve been able to have any success with is to save the ebooks & PDF’s (ones obviously not purchased via iBooks) to a desktop file which is then uploaded to the Cloud. This is then accessible to all of the devices. On my iPhone I have a “File” app which is part of the iOS 11 update & I can then download the desired books onto my iPhone that way. It’s a hassle but at least I’m not having to get my MacBook out each time I want to read something that hadn’t stayed on my device after a backup/sync with iTunes. Hope this helps.


I'm experiencing this issue too on an iPhone running iOS 11 and MBP running the macOS High Sierra.

I have notes and highlights made in iBooks samples on my phone. When I open iBooks on my Mac, those samples do not show up, even when clicking View > Show iCloud Books.

The solution for me was to search for the book in the iBooks Store on my Mac, then download it on the Mac. After that, my notes and highlights appeared in both places and synced across iCloud.

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