Getting our books back in iTunes on Mavericks

ibooks-mac

This is why I think iBooks is Mavericks’ disaster…

First off, I like iBooks in my iPhone and iPad, so I was expecting something better and more powerful for the desktop version. I was so wrong.

When we first run iBooks, it will show a welcome screen where we can “Get Started” using iBooks. What will actually happen is… iBooks will *move* our book library from iTunes to iBooks. The next time we open iTunes, our books are no longer there.

I usually add my own books in EPUB format into iTunes library while I like to keep managing my own EPUB files. iBooks doesn’t even give an option for us to do so. All our books will be automatically MOVED into a hidden folder and RENAMED from human-readable file names into seemingly-random numbers.
Where does iBook store our books actually?
It’s in a hidden folder: ~/Library/Containers/com.apple.BKAgentService/Data/Documents/iBooks/Books

To make things worse, iBooks unzipped the EPUB files into folders. In case you didn’t know, EPUB format is actually a compressed file that contains structures of files and folders inside. Storing those books in uncompressed format means: it takes more space.

To make things even worse, we can no longer edit any of our books’ metadata in iBooks library. So we can’t edit the book title, author, or any other information. This will not be a problem if ALL our books are purchased from Apple iBookstore. But who does that? I bet most people have their own ebooks either in EPUB or PDF format in their iTunes library.

I created some of my own EPUB files (converted them from other formats). So I absolutely need the ability to edit ebook metadata in my iTunes library (or now iBooks library). And I can’t believe they actually removed a feature that was previously available and doing just fine !

Now, after getting frustrated with how bad library management in iBooks, I just realized that my original EPUB files are gone. Yep, after iBooks “converted” the books into its internal library, it DELETED my original EPUB files. Luckily I still have a backup of those files.

To be fair, the reading feature itself works fine. I can read by ebooks and it looks good in my desktop screen. But other third party apps already gave me this capability. What I need is a flexible and powerful way to manage my books library, including metadata editing AND the ability to prevent iBooks from automatically manage my ebook files.

Some people wrote about how difficult it is to sync the books with iPhone/iPad now that iBooks replaces iTunes in handling ebook library. However, I didn’t find any problem. Even my ebook library is in iBooks, I can still see those books when I connect my iPhone/iPad to iTunes and can still choose which book to sync. I tried deleting and adding books in iBooks, and those changes are immediately reflected in iTunes.

 

So, should we downgrade back to Mountain Lion now?

Not necessarily. We can still enjoy the improvements of Mavericks without using its disastrous iBooks app. In case you need it, here are the steps to remove iBooks app and allow us to manage our ebooks using iTunes again:

(This guide assumes that you still have backup files for books that are NOT purchased from iBookStore. Do a Time Machine backup before starting. As usual, I am not responsible for any problem from using this guide, use it at your own risk.)

1. Open Activity Monitor and kill the bookstoreagent service.

2. Delete the file for that service: /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/CommerceKit.framework/Versions/A/Resources/bookstoreagent

3. Use AppCleaner to remove iBooks app completely.

4. Restart iTunes and Books menu will appear again there.

5. Copy our ebook files from our backup back to internal storage. This is mainly for ebook files that we didn’t purchase from iBookstore. Don’t worry about books that we purchased from iBookstore, we can re-download them again.

6. Delete the ebook files from ~/Library/Containers/com.apple.BKAgentService/Data/Documents/iBooks/Books so iTunes library will detect them as missing. Right click for each book, choose “Get Info” and it will ask the location of the file. Point the location to the ebook file that we have restored. Yes it’s probably a long and tiring process especially if we have plenty of books.

7. An alternative way of step 6 is to delete all the books from iTunes library and re-import them from the files. All the metadata we created before should remain unchanged.

8. Re-download books that we purchased from iBookstore. Or alternatively if we have those books in our iPhone or iPad, we can just sync them with iTunes and choose to transfer those books.

 

I did these steps in my desktop Mac because I need the ability to edit and manage my ebook files there. I keep iBooks installed in my Macbook because I only use it for mobility, and I will probably read books there.

 

edit 18 Dec 2013 : I have installed OS X 10.9.1 update and can confirm that this update does not bring iBooks back.
edit 31 Dec 2013 : It seems that these steps only work when we use it with OS X 10.9.0. So do these steps BEFORE upgrading to 10.9.1.
edit 10 Mar 2014 : These steps seem to work in OS X 10.9.2.
edit 17 Oct 2014 : I installed OS X Yosemite today. Couldn’t find my books in iTunes again. However, I simply removed the iBooks app using AppCleaner (step 3), restart, and my books return in iTunes.
edit 26 Oct 2014 : I have written a new post on getting our books back to iTunes on Yosemite.

 

By | 2015-03-30T18:08:18+00:00 27 Oct 2013|Guide, Opinion, Technology|46 Comments

46 Comments

  1. dana 22 Feb 2015 at 5:55 pm - Reply

    Hi there, after reading this amazing post i am also delighted to share my experience here with colleagues.

  2. Jeff 25 Oct 2014 at 9:09 am - Reply

    Robert, using your post as a reference, I’ve created a post that details how to restore Books/PDFs management to iTunes 12 under Yosemite.

  3. Michel 21 Oct 2014 at 10:36 pm - Reply

    “edit 17 Oct 2014 : I installed OS X Yosemite today. Couldn’t find my books in iTunes again. However, I simply removed the iBooks app using AppCleaner (step 3), restart, and my books return in iTunes.”
    Tried this, removed Ibook with appcleaner and restarted, Books now appears in the playlist column, but none on my books are there,although they are still in itunes/itunesmedia/books. Tried adding to library from there and also from /Library/Containers/com.apple.BKAgentService/Data/Documents/iBooks/Books but nothing happens

    • Robert Setiadi 21 Oct 2014 at 10:58 pm - Reply

      Michel, the trick of simply remove iBooks app using AppCleaner will only work IF you never opened iBooks app.
      If you have opened it even just once, you will need to remove in-memory agents by doing the complete steps, not just removing the app.
      If it doesn’t work, maybe the agent name or its location is changed in Yosemite.
      I didn’t need to go through the trouble of finding them because I never run iBooks after installing Yosemite.

      • Michel 21 Oct 2014 at 11:17 pm

        Hi Robert,
        Thanks for coming back to me so quickly. I never opened IBooks, just removed the application. Couldn’t find /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/CommerceKit.framework/Versions/A/Resources/bookstoreagent though as there is no private frameworks folder on my system. Should I delete ~/Library/Containers/com.apple.BKAgentService/Data/Documents/iBooks/Books file and /or itunes/itunesmedia/books file (having backed them up) and try importing the books again?

      • Robert Setiadi 21 Oct 2014 at 11:46 pm

        Hi Michel,
        I might try that if I were in your position. But since I haven’t tried that myself, make sure you backup everything before trying. I can’t really tell whether it will work or not. More importantly, I don’t know whether it will cause a bad side effect or not. If you do decide to proceed at your own risk, please do share here if it works. I will add it into the article.

      • Michel 22 Oct 2014 at 1:12 am

        Just to let you know it doesn’t work either.. Either I downgrade to itunes 11 (Not sure where I can find it-I assume I can’t just copy it from my other mac after deleting Itunes 12) or it’s back to dreaded Ibooks. Thanks for all your help

      • Michel 22 Oct 2014 at 1:37 am

        Sorry to be a pain, but do you think the problem is because of Yosemite or Itunes 12?

      • Robert Setiadi 22 Oct 2014 at 5:45 pm

        I believe it is triggered by Yosemite. Because I installed iTunes 12 before installing Yosemite and my books were just fine.

      • Michel 22 Oct 2014 at 2:54 am

        Suddenly it works!!!! Restarted a couple of times and what do you know all my books are there, but obviously unusable since there’s no reference to them in the itunes library, so I just had to re-import all 1300 from ~/Library/Containers/com.apple.BKAgentService/Data/Documents/iBooks/Books. Now need to delete all the duplicates

      • Robert Setiadi 22 Oct 2014 at 5:45 pm

        Glad that it works now !

  4. George N, 11 Sep 2014 at 10:40 pm - Reply

    With the latest (9/111/14) update to iTunes 12, everything seems to works as well or better than in iTunes 11 and Mavericks or Mountain Lion. If one follows Robert’s instructions after creating a Time Machine backup, an upgrade to Yosemite should be no problem!!!

  5. jmm 10 Sep 2014 at 2:51 pm - Reply

    Just wanted to know that I followed your instructions in Mac OS 10.9.4 (with the just released iTunes v. 11.4 (18) ) and it worked just fine.

    Thank you, thank you THANK YOU!

  6. George N. 09 Sep 2014 at 11:05 am - Reply

    But still no way to enter or edit groupings.

  7. George N. 07 Sep 2014 at 10:51 pm - Reply

    This fix apparently works with OS X 10.10 (Yosemite). By eliminating the iBooks app as recommended, my eBooks are again visible and manipulatable (?) in iTunes 12. iTunes 12, however, while it displays all my books and PDFs, only shows them in album view and does not currently provide any option for list view and for the use of a column browser.

    There is, however, a workaround. You can create a playlist with all your books and PDFs and then, when viewing that playlist, you can switch to list view and select a column browser.

    Once again, Apple manages to make simple things more difficult to accomplish. If only one could email Steve…

    • Robert Setiadi 09 Sep 2014 at 11:28 am - Reply

      Thanks. I haven’t tried Yosemite as I’m not beta version user. I always waited patiently for public release before using a new OS.

  8. George N. 06 Sep 2014 at 8:46 am - Reply

    Works beautifully in OS X 10.9.4. Thanks very much, Robert!
    Has anyone tried this in Yosemite yet?

  9. JP Jones 22 Aug 2014 at 5:45 pm - Reply

    Does anyone know how to do this with Yosemite?

  10. Dave 17 Jul 2014 at 4:15 pm - Reply

    Got this to work in Mavericks 10.9.4. Had to drag my PDFs into iTunes and change the Options/Media Kind to “book”. Once I did this for a few books I was able to drag and drop the rest into iTunes and it did the right thing. Only problem is that my metadata is gone so will have to re-enter all of the author names, publishing dates, and categories…

  11. siege 04 Jul 2014 at 9:04 am - Reply

    Saved me from iBooks in 10.9.4 — just in time too, as I was importing all the content from the new Humble eBook Bundle, and what a nightmare that would have been in iBooks!

  12. Sean Cavanaugh 16 May 2014 at 11:05 am - Reply

    The 10.9.3/iTunes 11.2 update broke it again. It doesn’t re-install iBooks or move all your books to the Containers folder, but killing the bookstoreagent service and deleting it does nothing. iTunes 11.2 doesn’t show Books up restart. Drat.

    • Robert Setiadi 16 May 2014 at 4:44 pm - Reply

      Really? I just updated to 10.9.3 with iTunes 11.2 and my iTunes still shows my books just fine.

      • Sean Cavanaugh 17 May 2014 at 12:39 am

        Maybe it’s due to the fact my iTunes media (music, books, etc) is not on my startup drive… I just checked again after a system restart, and still no Books in iTunes. I noticed another service — com.apple.BKAgentService — in Activity Monitor. Killing it made no difference.

  13. Klaus Schoenberger 12 Apr 2014 at 1:53 pm - Reply

    Thank you, thank you for your solution. I can’t believe that Apple would make an application more restrictive and clunky than what previously existed.

  14. Bruno 10 Mar 2014 at 9:39 am - Reply

    I took a chance on 10.9.2, did the process and it seemed to have worked.

  15. Bruno 10 Mar 2014 at 7:03 am - Reply

    I’m on 10.9.2, how do I make this work?

  16. Farishad 05 Mar 2014 at 5:31 pm - Reply

    I did it.
    I’m with 10.9.1 & iTunes 11.1.5
    I followed what you wrote & voila!
    It worked. The books reappeared on my iTunes.
    However, I forgot to trash away the books from the container, the list from iTunes link it to the folder still I hold in my trash.
    Now, I’m trying to re-download the books that I purchased from Apple Store.

  17. Rachel 01 Feb 2014 at 2:20 pm - Reply

    Ok so I am operating on 10.9.1 and I didnt see the comments before I did these steps. And now no matter what I do books doesnt appear back in my itunes! What do I do?!

  18. Cletus 06 Jan 2014 at 11:13 pm - Reply

    how do you downgrade to 10.9.0, this is so frustrating

    • Robert Setiadi 12 Jan 2014 at 4:18 pm - Reply

      for my case, I did not need to downgrade because I already did this step when using 10.9.0

      • Boske 15 Jan 2014 at 2:14 am

        Lucky you ! I had to go to “Parallels Windows 8” and I’m really upset.

  19. MacJim52 31 Dec 2013 at 9:59 am - Reply

    I have tried Steps 1-4 above but when I reopen iTunes, I do not get my Books icon in the Library and when I check Preferences, Books is not an option. I am using OS10.9.1 and iTunes 11.1

    I have restored what was deleted in Steps 1-4 from Time Machine but get the same results each time, no Books.

    Can anyone help outside going back to Mtn Lion and iTunes 10???

    Thanks in advance

    • Robert Setiadi 31 Dec 2013 at 11:22 am - Reply

      There is no need to go back to Mountain Lion. You only need to go back to 10.9.0 and these steps above will work.

  20. Cats 07 Dec 2013 at 2:45 am - Reply

    Dude, this is awesome. Dump the first half of the post and change the title to “Get Your Books Back In iTunes On Mavericks” or something so it’s more Google-able, and I guarantee people will be coming here in droves.

    • Robert Setiadi 22 Jan 2014 at 3:33 pm - Reply

      Thanks, that’s a great idea. I have removed the first half of the post and put it in a separate post, then changed the title of this post.

  21. BobM 26 Nov 2013 at 3:51 pm - Reply

    This solution worked fine for me. I had a couple of days of panic when iOS7 + Mavericks wiped out all trace of my hundreds of pdfs and ePUBs, which had all been carefully collated into iBooks “collections”.

    I purged the OS X iBooks app and its bookstore agent daemon, plus locating and somehow rehabilitated the pdf and ePUB files (forgotten exactly how I got it all back in place).

    Now, iTunes keeps all my pdf and ePUB files in ~/Music/iTunes/iTunes Music/Books, and as before, reliably syncs them all into iBooks on iPad, where the collections are intact. This is ok; for now, I generally only read stuff on iPad, though Preview will open the pdfs on Mac if I want to.

    But I have a question: what about updates ? I worry that the next Mavericks update, which I would normally want to do as I am sure it will have some needed bug fixes. But will the next 10.9.0x upgrade try to reinstall OSX iBooks, and will that iBooks still have these problems? Also, OS X is currently harassing me to update to iTunes 11.1.3 (from 11.1.2 now). Will 11.1.3 or later iTunes updates disturb the working balance of settings I have in place right now?

    Robert, are you able to shed some light on any of these questions?

    • Robert Setiadi 26 Nov 2013 at 3:59 pm - Reply

      I can tell you that I have updated my iTunes and my books are still ok.
      However, I strongly suspect that the next Mavericks update would probably break this solution.
      And there’s no way to tell since we haven’t got 10.9.1 yet.

      So, go ahead and update your iTunes. But if one day we get 10.9.1, you might want to wait before upgrading.

    • Robert Setiadi 18 Dec 2013 at 8:14 pm - Reply

      Today I installed 10.9.1 and my books are still ok. iBooks app that we have removed does not return.

  22. Paul R 16 Nov 2013 at 4:03 pm - Reply

    Thanks for relieving me of a crappy iBooks app

  23. Mark 07 Nov 2013 at 7:41 pm - Reply

    Thanks for this! However, if you reverse steps 4 and 5 (copy the ebook files from your backup to iTunes Media>Books before relaunching iTunes, the books will reappear in their proper place (or at least they did for me).

  24. Anton Stocker 02 Nov 2013 at 4:23 am - Reply

    Great idea!
    I couldn’t even get Apple-purchased books to appear in ‘collections’ on the iBooks desktop app, even though they appear as allocated in the total book listing???!! Or rather, some appeared, but about half did not – random!

    • Robert Setiadi 26 Nov 2013 at 4:00 pm - Reply

      In my case, Apple-purchased books would need to be re-downloaded.

  25. Marc 31 Oct 2013 at 1:01 am - Reply

    Thanks for your solution for iBooks. It works just fine now.
    Greetings from the Netherlands!

  26. Victor 30 Oct 2013 at 11:08 am - Reply

    Tanks my friend !!! Sucess

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