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?

  • Ah — my question may be a duplicate of this one: apple.stackexchange.com/questions/611/… Commented Oct 25, 2012 at 15:46
  • Please close the question if it is a duplicate.
    – duci9y
    Commented Oct 25, 2012 at 15:51
  • Clarified question so that it’s actually asking what I’m interested in, and isn’t a duplicate. Commented Oct 25, 2012 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
    Commented Sep 22, 2013 at 16:22
  • 1
    As of iOS 9.3 you can now do this. support.apple.com/en-us/HT205751 Commented Mar 25, 2016 at 18:14

5 Answers 5


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: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT205751

Federico Viticci mentioned this on Twitter first.

  • Oh sweet. (Or alternatively, finally.) If Viticci says it, I have faith it’ll turn out to be true. Commented Jan 12, 2016 at 15:42
  • 1
    I’ll update if/when I find an official notice.
    – Nate Bird
    Commented Jan 12, 2016 at 15:58
  • Here is the Apple support page: support.apple.com/en-us/HT205751 Commented Mar 25, 2016 at 18:14

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

  • 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? Commented Oct 25, 2012 at 15:44
  • 1
    Nope, that is only for purchased content.
    – duci9y
    Commented Oct 25, 2012 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
    Commented Mar 6, 2015 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.

  • "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. Commented Nov 6, 2013 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? Commented Jun 30, 2014 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)


Download to the iCloud folder of your choice...

Use Adobe Reader to access the file and download into Adobe Reader.

Do this by opening the Adobe Reader app

  • Click on recent at the top
  • Choose more locations
  • On the left side, choose iCloud and then choose the file location and tab then the download tag.

(it will not be able to read the file when you try to open it and will say this document cannot be previewed)

Now you can tap the share button and choose share or open in iBooks.

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