Apple’s iPad page yesterday snuck in some new information about iBooks; specifically, that you won’t be totally limited to books purchased through Apple. Specifically, Apple says:
Grow your library.
You’ll find lots of books on the iBookstore, and more arrive every day. The iBooks app uses the ePub format — the most popular open book format in the world. That makes it easy for publishers to create iBooks versions of your favorite reads. And you can add free ePub titles to iTunes and sync them to the iBooks app on your iPad.
This is where we’re going to start getting into semantics. Technically, it doesn’t have to be a free book in that no money was exchanged. Rather, it needs to be free of digital rights management, as iBooks is not compatible with anyone else’s DRM setup. This means you can load up your Feedbooks, Manybooks, and Smashwords books without a problem, but anything purchased from B&N, Sony or Kobo will not work.
Books from DRM-free sources that come in ePUB flavor already are all set. But let’s say you own a Kindle and have loaded it up with DRM-free ebooks from Free Kindle Books, Fictionwise, etc. You need to take a few steps to bring those books into iBooks. Don’t worry, it’s easy! First, head here and download Calibre. This software is free/donation-ware, and it is a very powerful ebook management tool. We’re barely going to scratch the surface of its abilities today with this simple tutorial on converting ebooks.
For the purposes of this demonstration, I’m using “Police Your Planet” by Lester Del Ray, downloaded from Manybooks.net. I have it in Kindle format, and I am going to walk you through how to convert it to ePUB. Start by opening Calibre, and then head to the far left corner where it says “Add books”. Navigate to the directory you downloaded your book to, and select it. Calibre will add the book, along with the cover art, in a nice coverflow style manner as well as in list form.
Then, select the book, and hit the “convert ebooks” option. You can do this in batches or one at a time; for this we’re just converting the one book. This next screen gives you a great deal of information, but what’s really important are the top left and right drop-downs. Left is the format your book is currently in, right is the target format. Assuming the book you are using was formatted and created correctly in the original file type, you shouldn’t need to do much tweaking during the conversion. Make sure the target file is set to ePUB, and hit OK.
Now you need to do a little digging. Calibre automatically drops the converted file into its library directory, and you’re going to need to locate it so you can add it to iTunes. On my computer, Calibre’s library lives under Computer–>C: Drive–>Users–>My Username–>Calibre. The new converted file can be added to any ebook reader that can read ePUBs, from Aldiko on Android to iBooks on the iPad to Sony Readers and B&N’s nook.
Unfortunately, this method will NOT work on DRM’d ebooks, but that’s to be expected. However, if you have PDFs without fancy formatting or charts, these can also be converted to ePUB using Calibre, and therefore opened through iBooks.
So now that you know how to convert parts of your library, get going! If you have enough books, this could take you all the way to April 3!