How to read 3rd party books on your iPad in a Post-PC world (aka how to send books to your iPad without tethering through iTunes)

I’m trying to be truly “Post-PC” (or rather, let my mobile devices live untethered from my Macs) with my new iPad 3 and iPhone 4S.  This works great as long as you’re buying everything through iTunes, since you can now download almost anything from the iTunes Cloud.

But what if you’re buying 3rd party books?  How can you experience them in the silky smoothness that a Retina screen on your new iPad 3?  Or even just get them to your iPad or iPad 2?

The official Apple way is to sync via iTunes:

Can I download books from other websites?

Yes, you can download ePub files on your Mac or PC. Add them to your iTunes library choosing File > Add to Library, or drag the ePub file to the Books library on your computer. To read these books, simply sync them to your device.

source: iBooks: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Here’s another way, potentially a better way, that makes it so that you can use The Cloud:

  1. Create a Dropbox account if you don’t already have one.
  2. Install the Dropbox app on your iPad if it isn’t already installed from the App Store.
  3. Download the ePub version of the book.
  4. Move the ePub  to one of your Dropbox folders and wait until it is synced – you can see the status in the Dropbox menu item in your menu bar if you’re on a Mac.  I’ve got a Books folder dedicated to this purpose.
  5. Open up the Dropbox app in your iPad and navigate to the folder where you placed your ePub book.
  6. Tap on the ePub book.
  7. You’ll see it download and then display a screen that says “Unable to view file.  This file type can’t be viewed” with some sort of M.C. Escher visualization of the Dropbox icon.  That’s OK because…
  8. Tap on the Action icon in the upper right.UIButtonBarAction.jpg
  9. Choose “Open In…” > “iBooks”.
  10. Voila!  You’ve got your book over to your iPad without tethering.  How “Post-PC” of you!