iBooks 2016iBooks users running iOS 9.3 can now sync e-books between devices via iCloud. Share the actual books as well as bookmarks and notes.

The trick is to set up the iCloud Drive on your iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, whatever.  Also, Mac owners will need to install OS X El Capitan 10.11.4 to do the syncing with the Mac version of iBooks. With a few refinements added, here’s a summary of other iCloud tips as published in iMore for people with iBooks in the iOS 9.3 incarnation:

–When you first open up iCloud in 9.3, select iCloud. But wait. I’ve discovered something else. If you already have iBooks going without syncing, you can switch it on by way of the iBooks menu within the Settings app. Once you say you want to use iCloud, at least when you’re opening up iBooks for the first time, it will sync your entire library automatically. I’m guessing this will also happen when you switch on iCloud from Settings.

–You can filter your bookshelf to display only PDFs, whether iCloud-included or not. Within iBooks, tap All Books and within that menu choose PDF. Voila! You’ll see just PDFs.

–To download a book from iCloud, just tap on the Cloud icon on a book cover.

–You can remove an iCloud book or another by tapping Select in the upper right corner, then pressing Delete in the upper left, then Remove from Device. To kill the file on all devices in iCloud, substitute Delete Everywhere for Remove. Zapping a book on iBooks for Mac is another way to erase it everywhere.

–To display only books stored locally, as opposed to those in iCloud, tap All Books and toggle on Hide iCloud Books. Please note that you’ll see PDF Books or something else in place of All Books if you’ve messed with it before.

–Within the Settings app, you’ll see such options as Sync Bookmarks and Notes and Sync Collections. You’ll almost surely want those two on.

If you’re don’t want to use iCloud or can’t update to iOS 9.3, you might also consider Dropbox as a common place to store books, especially if you’re using the Calibre e-book management tool. Calibre could use a Dropbox-based directory. You won’t get all the cool syncing features Apple offers (as does Google through Play Books or Amazon through Kindle apps). But that’s better than nothing.

Another thing to keep in mind is that any cloud system comes with security risks, and as Nate has pointed out, you might want to be careful about storing sensitive PDFs in iCloud for reading on iBooks.

All right. What are your own iBook tips, especially those involving new features?


  1. Thanks for the details. It forced me to look at the iBooks interface, and I discovered that, while it’s still not great, it is better than I’d originally thought. I’m not one of those who think that tablets will replace computers for everything. A touch UI isn’t even close to being as versatile as full, menu-driven one with keyboard and mouse.

    Tablets and smartphones work best with apps that are one-trick ponies, doing one thing well. Try to do too much, and they get confusing. Handling ebooks from the iBookstore and personal documents was already a stretch. Adding dozens of even hundreds of books a user might accumulate in iCloud adds more complexity. Then Apple had to add audiobooks to the mix. At least Amazon had enough sense to have a separate app for them.

    My main problem with iBooks is that, as an author, I test how my books look in iBooks. As a result, I often end up with multiple versions, including the published one. I’ve created a folder for those drafts, but I still wish the iBooks itself would describe more about each title—including the source and date—in its listing.

    Everyone who does ebook readers seems to be forgetting that people’s libraries won’t be new and small forever. Eventually, they’ll not only grow to hundreds of ebooks, but ebook from multiple sources. That makes for growing confusion. And in that confusion, the physicality of print will become more appealing. Digital books are on a collision with themselves if they don’t deal with a host of issues including ownership, selling, and inheritability. Can someone will their iBookstore or iTunes library to someone else? I don’t know, but I do know that problem needs to be settle fast. Some of these digital collections are going to be worth tens of thousands of dollars.


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