How to read an eBook – What to do with an ePub or mobi file

Hi there! So you like the idea of eBooks, but you’re not sure what to do with the files you’ve downloaded? Well, you’re in luck: I’m here to help!

When you purchase one of my eBooks, you get an email with download links. For each book there are two files: a PDF and an ePub file. We’ll get to Mobi files later.

PDF files preserve all the layout, which makes them ideal for printing. I’m not sure you’d want to print a couple of hundred pages, but you’re welcome to!
The problem is that PDF’s don’t scale well: the letters get smaller and smaller, so a PDF is hard to read on a tablet and impossible to read on a phone. It’s fine for laptops and desktops, though. You’re probably familiar with Adobe, but Foxit PDF reader is free and has a much smaller ‘footprint’. It’s also available as an app. Just save the PDF to Google Drive, Dropbox or iCloud Drive and open it with Foxit.

ePub files are all about making the text easy to read on your screen, no matter the size. You can decide to change the font size, or even the font. ePub files are read with special reader apps. On an iPhone or iPad you can use iBooks. It’s free from the app store.

But wait! How do you copy the ePub file to iBooks?

There are two easy ways. The easiest is to use a Mac computer with an up to date version of OSX. In it you will find the iBooks desktop app. Just drag the file onto the desktop app and it should sync with your iPhone or iPad. ‘Should’ being the operative word here…

If it doesn’t, or if you don’t have access to a Mac computer, Dropbox is your friend. It’s free, it’s fantastic, GET IT NOW. Seriously. No sane person should be without it. Although this also works through Google Drive, iCloud Drive, WDMycloud and many other storage services. It will also work if you email yourself an attachment and go from there. The instructions below are broadly the same.

Here’s what you do:

  1. Go to and create an account. It’s free.
  2. Install Dropbox via the App store or the Google Play store. It’s free.
  3. Save the ePub file to Dropbox. You should even be able to do that if you’re on your phone, but I recommend going through a regular desktop computer. Ask your grandmother if you can borrow hers.
  4. Open Dropbox and find the ePub file. Dropbox won’t be able to display it, BUT… you can ‘export’ it to another location. (Top right, three dots). Export, don’t copy.
  5. On iOS, you can export to Mail, Notes, Messages, etcetera. But we don’t want that. We want to export to iBooks (make sure it’s installed on your phone!) but that’s probably not listed. No problem, just look for this icon:

This is from a phone set to Dutch. Imagine it says 'Open in...'

Now select iBooks and the ePub file should show up there. You won’t need to go through this again. At least, not for this book.

Great. So what about mobi files?

Mobi files are similar to ePub files, except they’re for Amazon kindles. You can get the Kindle app for free on your phone. Just export from Dropbox to there, as described above. You can convert the ePub file to Mobi format here, for free, without any hassle:

There are many, many ways to read eBooks. You may prefer different eReader software or different eBook formats. I can’t cover everything, but hopefully I’ve helped you on your way. Okay, now go and buy your first eBook!

Ron Dudderie