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A quick tutorial on how to read PDF-formatted ebooks in iBooks


When me and my fellow TUAW bloggers Erica Sadun and Mike Grothaus recently had our collaborative effort "Taking Your iPad to the Max" published by Apress in both ebook and printed format, I wanted to make sure that I had a copy of the book on my iPad so I could show friends and prospective buyers examples of the content in the book. The ebook comes in a PDF format, but I wanted to read it in the iBooks app since it does such a wonderful job of displaying the printed word. Was I going to have to convert the PDF file to the app's native EPUB format before I'd be able to read it in iBooks?

Fortunately, no. Apple's recent update to iBooks added the ability to read PDF documents natively. The only thing you really need to do in order to read any PDF in iBooks is to move it to the iPad, and that can be easily done in iTunes:

  1. Connect your iPad to your Mac or PC.
  2. Drag the PDF to the Books icon in your iTunes Library, and drop it. Note that you can edit the name and author(s) of the book if you don't like the way the file name is displayed.
  3. Click your iPad or iPhone in the Devices list, then click the Books tab.
  4. Make sure that the book title box is checked and that Sync Books is also checked.
  5. Click the Sync button.

The sync should go very quickly. Most PDF-based ebooks are relatively small, and even over the somewhat pokey USB 2.0 sync connection, it will move to your iPad in less than a minute. What's interesting is that a new "PDFs" button appears on your iBooks bookshelf, and a tap displays all PDF documents that are in your library. While the PDFs don't have the nice side-by-side view in landscape orientation, they can be searched and bookmarked in the same manner as EPUBs.

By the way, expect to see the TUAW-labeled "Taking Your iPad to the Max" in your local bookstore soon!

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