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.