How to Sync Books to Your iPad

Illustration of woman holding iPad with app icons flying out of the tablet

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The iPad is a great tool for reading e-books. The iPad can carry hundreds of magazines, books, and comics in a package that fits in a backpack. Combine that with the Retina Display screen on the tablet to make an excellent reading device.

Whether you download free e-books for your iPad or purchase e-books from an online store, you have to copy the books to your iPad before you can enjoy them. There are a few ways to sync books to your iPad, and the method you use depends on how you sync your iPad and how you like to read books.

Only certain e-book formats are supported by the iPad. If a book is in a format that's not supported by the device, convert it to a different file format.

Use iTunes to Download Books to iPad

The easiest way to add books to your iPad is with iTunes, especially if you use your computer to sync content with your iPad.

Books pane in iTunes

To do this, add books to iTunes. For Windows, open iTunes and drag the e-books to the On My Device section. For Mac, open the Books program and drag the e-books to Books.

Apple Books app library with one eBook

Then, sync your iPad with iTunes to copy the books to your iPad. The books will download to the Books app, in the Library section.

The above steps for Windows are relevant for the most recent version of iTunes only.

For iTunes 11 on Windows, the steps are a little different. Choose Books from the left side of the program, then select the Sync Books check box. Before syncing the iPad with iTunes, choose to sync either All books or Selected books.

Add Books to iPad With iCloud

If you get e-books from Book Store, there's another option to put books on your iPad. Since every purchase is stored in your iCloud account, books can be downloaded to any device using the same Apple ID that made the purchase.

  1. Open the Books app. If you don't have it, install Books from the App Store.

  2. Select Library.

  3. Select Collections, then choose the appropriate menu item such as Downloaded, Books, or PDFs to see the books you purchased.

    Downloaded list of books in Books app on iPad

    If you don't see this menu item, tap the arrow in the upper-left corner and choose Collections.

  4. Tap an e-book to download it to your iPad. Books that have not been downloaded are indicated with an iCloud arrow icon.

Other Apps That Can Download Books on iPad

Apple Books is one way to read e-books and PDFs on an iPad. There are other e-book reader apps that you can use to read most books.

Here's how to use the Kindle app to put books from your computer on your iPad:

  1. Install the app on your iPad if it isn't already.

  2. Connect the iPad to a computer and open iTunes.

    Use the Kindle app to download books purchased from the Kindle Store, you don't need iTunes to do it since it happens in the cloud. However, items purchased from stores like that require those apps to read e-books.

  3. In the Settings pane, select File Sharing.

    File Sharing tab in iTunes
  4. Select the app you want to download books to.

    File Sharing list in iTunes
  5. Select Add File to send the book to your iPad through that app.

    Add File button in iTunes

    The right panel lists documents that are synced to the iPad through that app. If it's empty, it means that no documents are stored in that app.

  6. In the Add window, find and select the book from your hard drive that you want to sync to your iPad, then select Open.

    Open button in iTunes File Sharing
  7. Confirm that the book shows up in the right panel in iTunes, next to the app icon, then select Sync to transfer the book to the iPad.

  8. When the sync is complete, open the app on the iPad to find the synced books.

    The Confessions of Saint Augustine open in the Kindle app for iPad

Several apps do similar things, and they don't require iTunes. For example, store e-books in a cloud storage service such as Google Drive, open the books in the Google Drive app for iPad, then transfer the books to Apple Books from your tablet.

Many cloud storage apps for files support e-book formats, too, so you can use the app as an e-reader without transferring to Apple Books.