PadGadget’s iPad Tips: Using iBooks

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If you are new to the iPad, or maybe you’re just not tech savvy, there may be some things about your touchscreen tablet that you don’t know about. That’s why we are here to help. Last week, we gave you some helpful hints on using the iPad’s keyboard. This week, we are going to give you some basic, but useful details on downloading and reading digital books from iBooks.

If you didn’t already do it when you first turned on your iPad, you should download iBooks. You’ll find it in the App Store for free. When you download the iBooks app, you’ll be able to visit the iBookstore to browse titles, sample books and even download free ones.

Open the iBooks app and you’ll see an empty bookshelf. This is where all of your digital books that are compatible with the iBooks app will be stored. To browse titles to purchase and download from Apple’s iBookstore, tap the “Store” tab at the top left side of the screen. Here, you can find books by fiction, nonfiction, romance, graphic novels, and more. You can look for new titles in your favorite categories, or search for a specific book or author by typing something into the search bar.

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You can also browse books that were made with Apple’s iBooks Author app for Mac, textbooks, children’s read-to-me books, titles on sale, and free books. The Quick Links section at the bottom of the feature page shows a list of categories to choose from.

If you don’t know what type of book you are in the mood for, you can always see what is on the New York Times’ Best Seller list or browse by top authors and most popular iBook downloads.

When you find a book that interests you, you can either purchase it right away, or read a few pages by downloading a sample. This is akin to flipping through a paperback at your local bookstore to see if a particular book looks like something you’d be into.

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The book will immediately download directly to your iBooks bookshelf. When it has finished downloading, you can open it up and start reading.

There are ways to get books into iBooks other than going through Apple’s iBookstore. If you have purchased a digital book directly through a website, like O’Reilly Media or Digital Photography School, you can add it to your iPad a couple of different ways.

One way is to download the file to your computer first, and then add it to iBooks using the iTunes file sharing feature. Once the book is downloaded, you can either drag and drop it to the file-sharing library, or select “Add to Library” from the iTunes File menu. Once added, you’ll have to sync your iPad with your computer before you’ll be able to see it. Of course, if you have Wi-Fi syncing set up, this should be a breeze.

Another way to add a digital book when downloading from a website is to download the file directly onto your iPad. Visit the file’s link from your iPad’s web browser. When the file is about to download, you’ll see a popup menu that will ask what you want to open the file in. If it is compatible, iBooks will be one of the options. Tap the tab and the digital book will automatically download directly into the app.

To read a book, just tap on a title and it will open up for you. You can adjust the size and font type by tapping the settings icon at the top right side of the book. It looks like a small “A” next to a large “A.” In this section, you can also adjust the brightness of your book and change the theme to white, sepia, or night reading. Night reading has a black background with white lettering so that you can read in the dark without straining your eyes with the bright light of a white background.

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If you are not a fan of the faux book look, you can change the design to full screen or scroll mode in the settings section. Full screen simply removes the skeuomorphic design, but leaves the controls the same as a book (page turning by swiping left to right). Scroll mode makes the text and images look similar to a blog post.

You can also bookmark pages, search for certain words, copy-and-paste text, highlight, underline and annotate. To access the text-editing feature, touch and hold a word on the page. This will bring up a list of things you can do. For example, you can copy a word or phrase, define a word, highlight a phrase or paragraph, underline text, add a note, or share the passage you’ve selected to friends and family through Facebook and Twitter, or send it directly through email, or iMessages.

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Getting digital books on the iPad is a whole lot easier than lugging around 15 different hardbacks while on vacation. Now that you know how easy it is to buy books from Apple’s iBookstore, add them from you computer, and download them directly from a website, there is no reason your virtual bookshelf shouldn’t be packed with material to last longer than the technology you are reading it on. Enjoy.

About Lory: Writer of all things app related, traveler of the space-time continuum, baker of really great cookies. Follow me @appaholik