How to: Convert PDF files to ePub for iBook

By on October 13, 2010
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Have PDFs? Here’s how you can properly read them on your iPhone/iPad.

Step 1:
Download and install Calibre on your PC. Keep a PDF file handy to do a test run.

While installing Calibre, you will be prompted to select the device you will want to convert your PDF files to. Select Apple from the Manufacturers list, and iPhone/iTouch + Stanza from the Devices list.

Keep your iPhone hooked in.

Step 2:
Once the software boots up, add your PDF files into Calibre’s library.  Click Add Books (the first icon on the left corner) and select the PDF files you want converted. For exemplary purposes, I will be using the pre-installed Calibre Quick Start Guide for the tutorial.

Step 3:
Now your PDF files are ready to convert. Hit Convert Books icon (the third icon from left). This should popup the ‘summary’ window in which you can change author name, title, font size, ebook structure, book cover, etc. Make the final changes and click Okay.

Step 4:
Watch the bottom right corner for the progress of the conversion. Of course, the bigger the file, the longer it will take to convert. Once the waiting circle stops rotating, click Send to Device icon (fifth icon from the left).

Step 5:
The transferring process  should take a few seconds. It will automatically boot up iTunes and add the book into its library. All you have to do now is Sync your books with your device. Tada! Done.

Step 6:
Open up iBooks on your device, you should find ebook sitting prettily on the shelf. You can read it as any ebook purchased from the book store with all the features intact. Happy reading!

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Mufaddal Fakhruddin is the Editor for IGN ME and thinks writing in third person about himself in an about me section is weird.

  • Plymouthian

    This is pretty cool for certain situations, but if you’re primarily using pdfs then you might as well just pay the 59p for Goodreader – it blows ibooks out the water in every way as a reader

    • Mufaddal Fakhruddin

      Thanks for the suggestion, mate! Will look into the app.

  • Todd

    You really ought to point out that PDF conversion generally sucks, but Calibre has options to help with that. A straight-forward PDF conversion like the article suggests rarely works satisfactorily, leaving page headers and footers in place, not wrapping lines correctly, etc. This is not Calibre’s fault, but the fault of publishers who believe PDF is a valid ebook format.

    To work around PDF conversion issues, you have to play with the line unwrap factor (a value between 0 and 1, with .5 being the default that usually works) and regular expressions for headers and footers. Since Calibre is written in Python, the regular expression syntax is that used by Python and you can find decent tutorials on the web. Calibre also has a built-in tester so you can test your regular expression without having to fully convert the book only to find out that it didn’t do what you wanted.

    Finally, many (most?) PDF files will be DRM-protected. Calibre can’t read those. You’ll have to find a way to rip the DRM off before you feed it into Calibre for conversion. Google here is your friend (hint: Adobe’s DRM is called ADEPT, but it’s really … “inept”).

    • Todd

      Oh yeah, and forget about iBooks. It’s a terrible, terrible reader. Download Stanza instead.

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