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How To Read O'Reilly EPUB eBooks on your iPhone with Stanza

Update 12/1/08: O’Reilly ebooks can now be downloaded directly to an iPhone or iPod Touch through Stanza. Learn more here.

Since we released 30 of our books as ebook bundles (including EPUB, PDF, and Kindle-compatible Mobipocket format) as a pilot program, a steady stream of customers has been asking how to view them on their iPhone.

The quickest and easiest way is to use the BookWorm EPUB reader, which has a slick iPhone interface; however, that still requires you be online to read your books. We are actively exploring several options for deploying standalone iPhone Apps (Houghton recently did the same with several reference titles, like the American Heritage Dictionary), but in the meantime some recent updates to the Stanza iPhone App mean it’s now possible to transfer your O’Reilly EPUB ebooks to your iPhone for offline reading.

This post will show you how I did it on a MacBook Pro with an iPhone 3G. My attempts to do the same with Windows were unsuccessful, and I haven’t tried it with an iPod Touch. As always, your mileage may vary. These instructions assume you’ve purchased at least one O’Reilly EPUB ebook, and saved it to your Mac, and that your Mac and iPhone are on the same wireless network (alternatives described on the Stanza site).

  1. Install the Stanza iPhone App and the Stanza Desktop Reader.
  2. From the Desktop Reader, open one of your EPUB books
  3. From the Desktop Reader, choose Tools→Enable Sharing
  4. Again, make sure both your iPhone and Mac are on the same wireless network
  5. Fire up the Stanza iPhone App, which should bring up the main Library screen:
  6. Choose “Shared Books,” which should display the EPUB book you have open on your Mac:
  7. Next, select the book you want to download to your iPhone. Once it’s finished downloading, the icon will change from the green down-arrow to the blue right-arrow as shown above. You can now read your book on your iPhone, offline or on. Here’s a screenshot from the iPhone Missing Manual:


There’s more info on the Stanza website, but a few things to note about reading these on the iPhone:

  • A lot of the formatting isn’t (yet) supported by Stanza, including lists and tables. The text appears, but without bullets or clear indentation.
  • Images, on the other hand, look great
  • Searching only operates on the current section
  • Internal and external hyperlinks are not active

There will continue to be improvements among iPhone-based ebook readers, and I expect to see even more experimentation and innovation around turning book content into actual applications. (And if you do manage to get this working on Windows, let me know in the comments.)

On a related note, the response to our ebook pilot has been quite positive, and we’re working hard to get many, many more O’Reilly books available very soon as full ebook bundles (in the meantime, remember that if you buy the PDF version or print-plus-PDF bundle, you’ll get all of the ebook versions as a free update as soon as they’re available).

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Comments: 7

  1. A timely post, as I was on the lookout for a means to view password-protected PDF’s on the iPhone.

    I managed to successfully use the Windows version of Stanza Desktop without too much trouble. The only issue was that I needed to uninstall the Bonjour service and install the latest version from Apple’s site.

  2. That’s great news that buying a PDF now will give you the epub bundle in the future. I’ve been holding off on buying some books as PDF’s because I want the epub bundle. You guys should make that much clearer on the site because it’s a compelling option.

    Another nice thing would be to offer some way for you to upgrade a print version of a book to the epub bundle. I’d love to start clearing off my shelves and using my Sony Reader or Papers on my Mac to read all my O’Reilly books.

  3. People should be aware that the Stanza desktop app does not fully support 64 bit Macs (e.g. basically everything Apple has sold for a few years) as I’ve found out and as noted in their faq: http://www.lexcycle.com/node/58

  4. I’m using Calibre on the Desktop, to share file to Stanza on the iPhone. It works well on 64bit Macs, though UI is not great.

  5. FYI,

    Apple just announced officially today that the forthcoming iPad is supposed to support the EPUB book format via the built-in iBooks application.

    At some point I think it may be safe to presume that the Apple folks will have this same app available in a future iPhone OS upgrade (just an educated guess on my part as I am not affiliated with Apple in any way)

    Cheers GH

  6. Greg,

    I think the new iPhone4 supports the EPUB book format because my cousin told me she was reading some ebook on it without being online.