How to Sync Books to Your iPad

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

Huan Tran / Ikon Images / Getty Images

The iPad is a great tool for reading eBooks. After all, being able to carry with you hundreds, or even thousands, of magazines, books, and comics in a package that fits in your backpack or purse is pretty amazing. Combine that with the tablet's beautiful Retina Display screen and you've got a killer reading device.

Whether you've downloaded free eBooks for your iPad or purchased them from an online store, you have to copy the books onto your iPad before you can enjoy them. There are a few ways to sync books to your iPad, and the method you use depends entirely on your situation — how you sync your iPad and how you like to read books.

Only certain eBook formats are supported by the iPad. If your book happens to be in an obscure format not supported by your device, you can try converting it to a different file format.

Use iTunes to Download eBooks to iPad

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

Books area of iTunes on Windows

To do this, first add books to iTunes. For Windows users, open iTunes and drag the eBooks into the On My Device section off to the left side of the program. If you're using a Mac, open the Books program and drag the eBooks into Books.

Apple Books app library with one eBook

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

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

If you're using iTunes 11 on Windows, the steps are a little different. Choose Books from the left side of the program and then place a check in the box next to Sync Books. Before syncing your iPad with iTunes, choose whether you want to sync All books or Selected books.

Add Books to iPad With iCloud

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

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

  2. Select Library from the bottom menu.

  3. Select Collections at the top left of the screen and then choose the appropriate menu item — such as Downloaded, Books, or PDFs — to see the books you purchased.

    Apple Books Collections menu

    If you don't see this menu item, tap the arrow at the top left and then choose Collections.

  4. Tap an eBook to download it to your iPad (not-yet-downloaded books should have an iCloud arrow icon).

Other Apps That Can Download Books on iPad

Apple Books is just one way to read eBooks and PDFs on your iPad. There are actually lots of other eBook reader apps out there that you can use to read most books.

Given the number of eBook reader apps on the market, it'd be impossible to explain them all here. Below is an example of how to use the Kindle app to put books from your computer onto your iPad.

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

  2. Connect your iPad to your computer and open iTunes.

    You can also use the Kindle app to download books you purchased from Kindle Store, and you don't even need iTunes to do it since it happens via the cloud. However, items purchased directly from stores like that require those apps to read the eBooks.

  3. Select File Sharing from the section on the left.

    iPad details open in iTunes for Windows
  4. Select the app you want to download books to.

    iTunes File Sharing section
  5. Use the Add File button on the right side of iTunes to send the book to your iPad through that app. 

    Kindle file sharing details in iTunes for Windows

    In the panel on the right are documents already synced to your iPad through that app. If it's empty, it just means that no documents are currently being stored in that app.

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

    PDF opening in iTunes for File Sharing
  7. Confirm that the book shows up in the right-side panel in iTunes, next to the app icon, and then select Sync to transfer the book to your iPad.

    Kindle Documents listed in iTunes for Windows
  8. When the sync is complete, open the app on your iPad to find the synced books.

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

Several other apps can do similar things, and they don't all require using iTunes. For example, you can also store your eBooks in a cloud storage service such as Google Drive, open the books in the Google Drive app for iPad, and then transfer them to Apple Books directly from your tablet.

With that being said, lots of cloud storage apps for files support eBook formats, too, so you could just use the app as an e-reader without transferring to Apple Books.