How to read books on your iPad


Read ebooks on your ipad-2

I am a bookworm of the digital variety. You know, the kind that gets super hyped up on ebook apps. The kind that recommends these apps at the slightest hint of a kindred spirit:


So imagine my glee when, a couple of day after the Twitter exchange, one of my best girlfriends asked for some advice on reading ebooks on the iPad. To say I jumped at the opportunity to evangelise… may be an understatement.

Here are 3 ways you can start reading books on the iPad:

  1. Borrow them from the library
  2. Buy them from an online retailer like Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble
  3. Download a free ebook from one of the above retailers or a repository like Project Gutenberg


#1 – My library is pretty awesome

If you’re not sure if your library has an ebook catalog, you can:

  • Google “your library name” AND ebooks
  • Download the OverDrive app and find your library through that
  • Check out the directory on

If your library does have an ebook catalog, do a little dance, then proceed to load up its OverDrive site in Safari on your iPad. (Safari is far more reliable for this than Google Chrome, in my experience, and I haven’t had any problems loading the ebook source files in the ebook apps via Safari.)

Let’s get started: Decide which ebook reader you’d like to use.


There are tons of ebook readers on the market, but the two that are really good for library ebooks are OverDrive and Adobe Digital Editions (ADE).

If you need some help in making a decision, here are some comparisons you may find relevant:

  • Control over reading experience: OverDrive allows you to tweak pretty much all the aspects of your ebook reading experience — the margins, font, line spacing, columns, background color, etc. ADE only allows you to select background colors, margins, and fonts.
  • Highlights: ADE has a highlighting function if you want to take note of some choice quotes. OverDrive doesn’t have this.
  • Option to ‘return’ books: You can return ebooks from the OverDrive iOS app, but not from the ADE app. This may be a factor if you don’t want to log in on your desktop, and your library isn’t too generous with the number of ebooks you can loan.
  • Audiobook support: OverDrive supports audiobooks, but ADE does not.

I have tried both and prefer the latter. Although OverDrive affords you greater control over how things look, I’ve found that the books seem to look better on ADE. Which seems counterintuitive. But that’s my humble opinion.

Phew. Still with me?


Good news: The hard part is over.

Things are pretty easy after selecting your app and authorising it with your Adobe account. (Don’t have one? Register one here!)

Log in with your library account → Run a search for the book of your choice→ Download the book from your Bookshelf (that’s on the right of your screen).

You should then be prompted to open the .acsm file (that’s the source file). You now have the choice to load it in OverDrive or some other ebook app.


That’s it. Really.


#2 and #3 – I want my own copy, thank you!

If you are interested in downloading ebooks for keeps, you can either purchase it from a retailer like Amazon or Barnes & Noble, or download a free ebook.


Once you have access to the downloadable file, you have a couple of options:

  1. Sync it via the Cloud — apps like the Kindle and Nook do this easily.
  1. Access the file from the website via Safari on iOS and open it in iBooks or one of the other ebook apps.
  1. Sideload the file by saving it in a cloud drive like Dropbox, then accessing the file through the iOS app and opening it in your favourite ebook reader.  (This is my preferred way to sideload but you can, of course, drop the file into the app via iTunes too.)


There are so many options available for anyone interested in moving to ebooks. I hope this was useful for anyone looking to begin on the iPad! If you have questions about any of the apps mentioned, drop me a tweet or leave a comment below and let’s have a conversation 🙂

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