There is something strange going on with Books on iPad and iPhone. It keeps deleting some books locally, keeping them in the cloud.

It's frustrating because it happens when I'm offline and I simply lose the access to them.

Why is this happening at all? And how can I stop it?

I enabled syncing things over iCloud Drive and everything, but I can't see an option to disable such optimizations.

PS: the same thing happens with Photos, Numbers and Pages. The Photos app has an optimize storage option. But there doesn’t seem to be such an option for Books, Numbers and Pages.

A clear example: just a few hours I was reading a book on Books, I took a nap, and when I opened the Books app, the book was not available offline anymore. Since I don’t have internet right now, it’s simply impossible to access the document.

  • Guess you can disable iCloud for iBooks?
    – user307355
    Dec 7, 2018 at 17:56
  • Please add supplementary info to your question: iPad version and iOS version - no application iBook since version 10.x, only Books - may be a typo or you are in unfortunate case of unsupported software/hardware. Are you up to date? Syncing may be disabled in Settings -> Books -> Reading Now AND iCloud Drive buttons must be disabled.
    – Yoan
    Dec 8, 2018 at 14:36
  • 3
    @Yoan Sorry, syncing does work. What is weird is that the local copies of the books get deleted randomly, and I have to redownload them. Nothing is lost, except the local copy, which later will require internet to be downloaded. Dec 11, 2018 at 15:19
  • 3
    @Yoan They are synced smoothly between the devices. The issue is their local copies get deleted from device without my interaction (they are accessible in the cloud, but that requires internet to download them). Dec 11, 2018 at 19:35
  • 7
    I have the same problem and it is really infuriating. Before I left home, I downloaded a book to read on the train. When I settled down on the train to read the book, I found it had deleted. The WiFi on the train didn’t allow me to download it again. I haven’t found a solution.
    – Emerlist
    Oct 21, 2019 at 21:42

12 Answers 12


I feel you. I've never been able to figure this out, and it is so frustrating. This might not be the answer you're looking for, however, I've migrated away from using iBooks and using iCloud for syncing anything besides things like the keychain and settings.

Since you mentioned you were reading a pdf ebook, I recommend an app called Bluefire Reader. It does ePub, PDF, and Adobe DRM. Of course, if you have a bunch of ebooks you've bought from Apple, well, that's another thing; DeDRM does exist, but that's really all I can say on that.

  • 2
    Does Bluefire Reader sync the docs across the devices? And does it support highlighting and writing over the documents? Dec 10, 2018 at 13:26

Try disabling iCloud for Books.

Note: Make sure you have your books saved so they do not get deleted.

Here's how:

Go to settings.

Tap on your Apple ID at the top:

Then click on iCloud:

Then turn off the switch for books:

For your photos you can turn optimise iPhone storage off in photo settings:

  • I mentioned I still want to sync the books over iCloud... Dec 8, 2018 at 3:55
  • @IonicăBizău I don’t get your issue then. You want to sync books but you don’t want them to be synced online???
    – user310476
    Dec 8, 2018 at 9:17
  • 7
    The issue is they get deleted from the device (locally) without my interaction... I want them to be synced online, but not being deleted automatically... Dec 9, 2018 at 2:40
  • 1
    I honestly don't think (if you're having this issue) there's a fix (if you must sync with iCloud). I have it too; no matter how I change the settings, some content is always being placed only in the cloud. It never really respects any "keep everything locally" settings. I sync with Google and/or Amazon now for books and photos now. Dec 9, 2018 at 6:54
  • @GeoffNixon So—is that the expected behavior? Dec 11, 2018 at 15:19

I second trying to disable iCloud for Books and see what the result is.

As for the photos on your iPad, sounds like you have 'Optimize iPad Storage' turned on for Photos under iCloud settings. If you go into settings>Apple ID>iCloud>Photos then select download and keep originals it should fix the issue with your photos. If you have the 'Optimize iPad Storage' option selected your device will keep a smaller resolution copy of the picture and attempt to download the full resolution picture when you access it through the Photos App or elsewhere. Here is Apple's article with the steps I described: Manage your photo and video storage

  • 1
    For the photos, indeed, the optimize setting is the issue. But there is no Optimize iPad Books option... Dec 8, 2018 at 3:56
  • 1
    I tried disabling iCloud for Books and that's gonna hide all the books that I need... Dec 9, 2018 at 2:39

I have the exact same issue with my ipad, os version 12.4.4 very frustrating.

Tried everything suggested above and some more, nothing helps. Even worse, I just experienced the same issue with the Kindle app so it might be a more general problem related to how the os manages/optimizes local content storage (I have 5gb+ storage left so it’s a bug, not a feature if this is the issue)

  1. Solution: if you turn off syncing in Books it keeps the local copy for me but it won’t sync of course :)
  2. Solution (what I settled on for the long run): Dropbox to sync + Acrobat for pdfs / Marvin3 for epub, etc. to read.
    • Have to export/import a copy between the apps to keep and sync notes, highlights, etc once I finished reading or if I want to continue on another device (acrobat can do this automatically I think if you give them access to your dropbox, but a) that’s just another potential source of frustrating bugs and I need a robust solution and b) i don’t want to give them access).
    • I keep a large offline library on my device in dropbox and store what I am reading at the moment locally in the reader apps also (they do this automatically). Don’t think you need to store content offline in dropbox for this to work (and thus pay for that feature), but I do it anyway as I want access to all my library everywhere without internet. But you could just use the readers’ local storage to have at hand a few dozen books.
    • I don’t turn on cloud sync in either of the reading apps as it’s error prone and I need a robust solution to not end up without books on a flight/train and to make sure my annotations sync also.

Solution 2 seems very robust, and probably won’t ever have issues as these apps do one thing but they do that well. I tried other sync solutions and like a dozen different readers, but all have issues (e.g. export/import pdfs between Apple Books and dropbox: Books adds every time a few MB to the book size.. And other issues)

Good luck!


To answer your question: seems to be intended as is expressed in iPad/iPhone Users Guide, iOS version 11.4. An excerpt in the picture below (yellow highlighting is mine):

enter image description here

This good description is now almost vanished in the recent version (not as explicit as this one).

As for storing locally, on the iPad, you may watch/compute/verify as follows:

1) Verify a book download: Go to Settings -> General -> iPad Storage -> Books and click to the right and see two items, there, Documents & Data and dully note the size of these.

2) Add a new book: (download a new one) and check/verify/note the new size as in previous point.

Note the size should be >0; if equal zero could be something else wrong.

3) Turn off the wifi from Settings -> Wifi

4) Verify again the size as in 2) Should be the same.

5) Open the Books and manage your download. See the picture below:

enter image description here

Now, please observe three dots to the right and under the book icon. Click on them and choose what to do with the book: add to Collections.

6) Also in Books: Click on Library icon on the lowest row of the display. This will open the Collections page. Click/tap on Collections word and choose from the pop-down listing. You should have a menu item Downloaded where all downloaded books should take place.

7) Verify the iCloud storage occupied by your books: in Settings -> [your name] -> iCloud -> Manage Storage -> Apple Books -> Documents & Data. You may have more than a single item Apple Books.

If the size here is smaller or equal than the size found in 4) for sure you have booked stored locally.

Note the size may vary, after some time some books will be reloaded to iCloud if no activity on them.

  • 1
    Yoan, the used iCloud storage will be always bigger than the local one because all my books are in the iCloud storage, but not all of them are on my iPad. after some time some books will be reloaded to iCloud if no activity on them — Why is that? Mar 10, 2019 at 6:26
  • Seems to me, based on some observations and some Apple developer speeches that Apple uses some kind of AI and other techniques and based also on the frequency of use, the books are moved back to iCloud. So, from time to time, if needed, you must download them again. If purchased from Apple, those books don't count in iCloud space (only a link on Apple store is saved, so you understand the benefits, for both you and Apple).
    – Yoan
    Mar 10, 2019 at 14:21
  • 1
    I fail to understand what kind of AI is that which deletes my book after 5 minutes of interacting with it when not even connected to internet... And Apple Support is not helping me either because I don't have a phone number from a country where they have phone support... It's so frustrating. Mar 11, 2019 at 8:35
  • What kind of books do you have - i.e. purchased from Apple Store or .pdf downloaded from the internet? And also is your iPad a new one or older one? Also you may try Apple Support to post questions. Did you checked also some other methods - i.e. move a book to Files folder? did they disappear from there also?
    – Yoan
    Mar 11, 2019 at 9:49
  • 1
    The text highlighted in yellow simply says that books purchased from Apple can be redownloaded from Apple itself (they already have copies of all books they sell), and so they don't need to be stored in your iCloud account. It's not really relevant to this question, because any book might removed from the device, regardless of whether it was purchased from Apple or not. Sep 26, 2022 at 23:32

Solution is simple: just turn off the automatic apps offload. I don't know the reason for this, but before I did this books which I was currently reading got deleted EVERY morning. Sometimes even couple of times a day. It's been 3 days since I had disabled "Offload Unused Apps" and my books weren't deleted even once.

Go to Setting > iTunes & App Stores > disable "Offload Unused Apps" > Reboot device just in case

  • 1
    Ironically, when enabled that deletes the apps but not the data. I don't have that enabled. The issue still happens... Sep 6, 2019 at 21:01
  • Yeah, it didn't fix the issue completely for me as well. Books still get deleted, just not every day as before. Maybe it's just coincidence...
    – Boykodev
    Sep 9, 2019 at 10:25

Turn off 'Reading now'. Settings > Books and then under the syncing sub-head turn off 'Reading now'. This definitely works for me now.

  • 1
    I have tried this. Worked for a week. Local copies got deleted when I did not have WiFi and internet... Jun 5, 2020 at 10:47

Find the book that you don't want to be removed from your device and tap on the three dots to the lower right of the image. Then select 'Save to files'. Works for me.

  • 1
    I have tried this too. It does not work... May 3, 2020 at 18:10
  • Fair point!! It looked like it was working for me and then stopped working. However, I think I have now cracked it! Turn off 'Reading now'. Settings > Books and then under the syncing sub-head turn off 'Reading now'. This has now worked for me a for a couple of weeks. May 4, 2020 at 20:37

sorry that this will be a bit lengthy, but I want to point out the things I also have tried, and I may have a solution! Turning off iCloud syncing in the IOS settings or in the desktop OS settings both stop me from getting access to the Books on my iPad or iPhone. I also have my books required to be uploaded every time I restart my iPad, or even if I turn off Books or just come back a couple of hours later: note that it neither works if I turn off the sinking in the iCloud settings or in the Books settings. This is definitely a programming flaw, but someone’s comment above reminded me of the “Optimize Mac storage “button that is on your OS iCloud settings page (System Preferences/Apple ID).
as it claims that it will download documents to your desktop to save space in iCloud, I decided to see if it also downloaded to my iOS devices to save space, which it does! So this is without turning off syncing, either on your desktop OS or your IOS device, and as long as you have space on your IOS device it will download the documents to that device. The trick is obviously to make sure you have space!

I hope this alleviates your problem, and thanks to all the above responses which guided me to this solution.



user310476's answer worked for me, but with extra steps.

I have most of my books in iCloud and I read them in the Books app. Steps to prevent books from offloading:

  1. Disable access to iCloud for the Books app in the Settings. This will delete all the books in Books, so save them elsewhere.

  2. Open every book you want to read in Books. .epub files will open there automatically, but for PDFs you need to

    • open context menu for the file, Share -> ... More -> Books. This will open the file in the Books, but if you exit now, it won't be saved.
    • To save it, press the share button in the Books with your PDF open. Share -> Copy to Books. This will save your PDF inside the Books app.

I am trying another PDF reader called “Xodo”. I just copied my PDF from eBooks to Xodo.

I guess eBooks, being the “official app”, respects digital rights much stricter than other apps.

I think digital rights is a good thing, but I still have too many PDFs that are of dubious origin…

Hope this helps other readers, and personally I am striving to be a more responsible reader.

PS: Xodo has even better annotation functions than eBooks!


Guys I think I might have found the solution without turning off Icloud sync.

First; Go to "settings > books" and turn off "background app refresh". Then ; Download all the books on wifi. You should download them one by one clicking each. A little bit frustrating but worths it.

Now, even if I close the app, turn off the mobile or so on, my books are ready for me on Books app, even without the internet.

Hope it helps.


And one final note: Still, Apple should have a look on the issue why Books app can not download on LTE/cellular internet.

  • How does this answer the original question which is about locally downloaded books getting randomly deleted locally again when an iPhone has no connection to the Internet? On another note, you can have the Books app use your mobile connection to download a book: go to Settings->Books and turn on "Cellular Data".
    – Alper
    Nov 2, 2022 at 22:12
  • As it’s currently written, your answer is unclear. Please edit to add additional details that will help others understand how this addresses the question asked. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Nov 3, 2022 at 0:14

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