How to download and read eBooks on an iPad

Chris Torney / 29 January 2016 ( 24 August 2020 )

Make your book collection portable with our guide to downloading and reading eBooks on your iPad or iOS device.



Your iPad can be used to download and read many thousands of books, from the latest bestsellers to all-time classics - many of which are available for free.

Using your device as an e-reader, as they are known, means you can access more or less any book instantly – once you have paid for and downloaded it – and you won’t have paperbacks or hardbacks taking up space in your home. Reading on a digital device also makes it easy to change font size, making your ebooks easier to read than some small type printed books might be.

With your iPad, it’s also easy to take notes or mark important passages. And you can often download the first couple of chapters of a book at no cost to see if you like it before committing to buy.

Did you know you can also listen to audiobooks on your iPad? Find out more...

Using your iPad’s Apple Books app

The simplest way to read a book on your iPad is by using Apple Books, previously known as iBooks: this program should be pre-installed on your device so you don’t need to download it.

Tap on the 'Apple Books' icon to open the app an select Book Store to get to the shopfront – you use the same app to buy books as to read them.

Here you can browse through categories  – from cookbooks to thrillers, search for your favourite author or look solely for free books. You can also browse what's coming soon and read previews of books to see if you like them, or add books to your reading list.

Apple Books can read PDFs, EPUBs and IBA, Apple's proprietary book format.

Tips to extend your iPad's battery life.

Downloading and buying eBooks

Once you’ve found a book, tap on it to see the price. Here you should be able to look at a few sample pages: tap on 'Sample' and once it has downloaded tap 'Read'.

You will now be taken to your Apple Books library: tap on the book’s title to open it.

When you want to buy, choose your book in the store, tap on the price and then tap 'Buy Book'. At this stage you will be asked for your Apple ID password.

(As an alternative to Apple Books you can use Amazon’s Kindle app: this might be a better option if you already own books on Kindle and want to read them on your iPad.)

10 handy iPad tips and tricks.

Reading and customising

Your books are stored under the 'My Books' tab. 

To read a book, just tap on its title: the first page appears on the screen, and you swipe left to move on to the next.

In the top right-hand corner there are three icons. The first, showing a small and a large capital A, let you change the brightness, font and font size, and background colour. You can also turn on 'Scrolling View', which means you scroll the text upwards to read rather than “turning” pages.

Next to the 'A's is a search icon which lets you look for words or phrases in the text. The final icon is a bookmark, which creates a reminder of a specific page or point in the book.

At the top left of the page next to 'Library' are three horizontal lines. Tap here to look at the book’s contents, as well as any bookmarks or notes you’ve created. Tap 'Resume' to return to the book.

To create a note or highlight a passage, hold your finger on a word and then choose the option you want.

Once you've started reading a book your app will remember where you got to so you don't need to worry about losing your place.

For more tips and useful information, browse our technology articles.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.