Device Advice: Moving a Take Control Ebook to Your Mobile Device

The PDF version of any Take Control ebook can be read in any PDF-reading application, including the free Adobe Reader on Macintoshes and Windows computers, and the free Preview on the Macintosh. For the most part, the Take Control series is also available in the EPUB and Mobipocket (MOBI) formats. These formats are sometimes preferable on mobile readers such as the iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, Kindle, and Nook.

The "Quick Summary Table" just below may fully answer your question, or you can continue reading below for extended details.

Quick Summary Table

To Do This with an EbookOn a Mobile DeviceOn a Mac or Windows Computer

Download from the cart

Click the button(s) on the last screen of the cart to download to your Web browser, in a new tab.

Once the download is done, in iOS, keep tapping to move the ebook to an app.

You can also download to the Kindle Fire.

Click the button(s) on the last screen of cart. A zipped PDF file for each ebook will download; usually, it will unzip automatically.

To get a MOBI or EPUB, open the downloaded PDF and click Check for Updates on the cover—if you are asked to log in, you can just close that dialog.

Download after you've closed the cart

In iOS, log in to your Take Control account, and tap an icon.

For other devices, look below in this table.

Use the download link in your email receipt.

Or, log in to your Take Control Ebooks account and click an icon in your library.

Transfer between Mac or Windows and an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch

Use iTunes to transfer between the iTunes Books library and the iBooks app.

Or, copy into an app using lower portion of Apps pane in iTunes.

Or, use a cloud service such as Dropbox. EPUB expert Liz Castro explains how to do this in her article Sideloading ebooks with Dropbox, and her directions work for EPUBs, PDFs, and MOBIs.

Transfer between Mac or Windows and a Kindle

Use Amazon's Send to Kindle for Mac (PDFs only, at the moment), or Send to Kindle for PC.

Or, for the Kindle Fire, read Adam's TidBITS article, How to Download EPUB, PDF, and Mobipocket to the Kindle Fire.

Transfer to a Kobo

We don't have in-house experience with the Kobo, but the directions on the Kobo Web site look useful.

Reading a Take Control Ebook on an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch

If you didn't download an ebook to your iOS device directly from the cart, you have several options for transferring the ebook to your device. (Note: We enabled downloads to iOS from the cart in April of 2012, so if you're certain that you never got that option, you probably shopped before we enabled the feature.)

Read on the Web

From your iOS device, log in to your account on the Take Control Web site (the login option is near the upper right of the home page or try the special login page). If you are not on the Take Control Library page, tap your name near the upper right. From the Library tab, tap the PDF icon to view an ebook in PDF form in the Web browser app.

All ebooks that you've purchased through the Take Control cart are available to you here. You can also (usually) add Take Control ebooks that you've purchased elsewhere, perhaps through the iBookstore, or through Bare Bones Software, DEVONtechnologies, or Smile. Or, maybe you won an ebook in a MUG raffle. To add an ebook, first make sure you are already logged in, then open your ebook, and second tap the Check for Updates button on the cover. If your ebook is in a non-PDF format, it may not have a button on the cover. In that case, look in the Read Me First for a link that takes you to "Check for Updates" or "Ebook Extras." Tap that link. (If all else fails, ask us for help!)

Download the Ebook and Put It in an App

To load a PDF-, EPUB-, or MOBI-formatted ebook into a third-party app on an iOS device, use Safari to log in and access the ebook as described just above—tap the icon for the format that you want, PDF, EPUB, or MOBI (EPUBs and MOBIs aren't available for all ebooks). Then, if the "Open in" controls don't appear, tap the Safari screen to reveal them. The "Open in" options will vary depending on which format you've downloaded and what ebook-reading software you've installed; ebook-reading apps include iBooks, Readdle, Kindle, and GoodReader, among many others. (To download a PDF into Safari, you must be running iOS 4 or later. To download an EPUB, you must be running iOS 4.3.1 or later. At some point in iOS 4 or iOS 5, Apple added this option for MOBI, too.)

Dropbox Tip: If you use Dropbox to transfer ebooks to your iOS device, note that Dropbox cannot display the file so that you can read it in Dropbox. However, once the file is loaded, tap the swooshing-arrow Share icon (likely at the upper right) to get the "Open In" controls and then tap one of the options that appears, such as iBooks. The iPad will now copy the ebook into the app that you chose.

Use iTunes on Your Computer to Transfer Ebooks to iBooks

You might have the ebook file on your computer because you downloaded it from a link on your eSellerate receipt, or through various special scenarios. Once you have the PDF or EPUB on your computer, you can load it into iBooks using iTunes: First, drag the file into the Books section of your iTunes library (or choose File > Add to Library). Then, select your device in the iTunes sidebar and click the Books tab. In Books, enable the checkbox for the ebook and then click Apply. In iBooks, if you can't find the synced ebook, try looking in a different Collection.

More about EPUBs

When the Take Control series began in 2003, we were a PDF-only shop. At some point along the way, we outsourced making EPUB and Mobipocket versions of the ebooks. This was good because the conversions were made, but it took longer than we'd prefer and the formatting wasn't customized to the Take Control look and feel. All those EPUBs (and Mobipockets) remain available.

In early 2011, we converted our authoring and production process so that as we create updates and new ebooks, we can release those titles as PDFs and EPUBs at the same time, and with formatting that we chose. (We are still outsourcing Mobipockets, at least for now.) As before, the PDF is available directly from the Take Control Ebooks cart. To get the EPUB you can:

  • Shop on an iOS device or Kindle Fire—the last screen of the cart will offer you an EPUB download link.
  • Log in to your Take Control ebooks account, and download it from your library.
  • Open the PDF of he ebook to page 1 (the cover), and click the Check for Updates button. You do not have to log in—just close the dialog if you don't want to log in. The EPUB is available on the Downloads tab.
  • If you have an alternative version of the ebook—maybe you bought the app version in the Apple App Store—look for a "Check for Updates" or "Ebook Extras" link in the Read Me First portion of the ebook. Tap it. In this case, although you can cancel the dialog and not create an account, you may (or may not) be able to download from the Downloads tab. If you can't download, try logging in to your account directly from the special login page, using an iOS device, Macintosh, or Windows computer. Feel free to write in and ask for help if that's easier for you.

Some older Take Control ebooks have never been converted to EPUB format. If that's the case, you won't see an EPUB download option in your library or on the Downloads tab. Feel free to get in touch if you have a question about if an EPUB is available.

Macworld has started publishing EPUB versions of their titles, so we'll make available any EPUBs they give us. Also note that recent Superguide PDFs have begun using a one-column layout that's more suitable for the smaller-screened iPhone and iPod touch.

The Difference between an EPUB and a PDF of a Take Control Ebook

We choose the fonts, spacing, and other visual aspects of the PDF to provide an excellent onscreen reading experience, and we think it looks nice on the iPhone and iPod touch and gorgeous on the iPad. The PDF, like all PDFs, has a page-based layout in which a page break operates as a visual element. In contrast, the EPUB version is “reflowable,” meaning that you can customize the type and the text will reflow to fill the screen accordingly. Tables, captions, sidebars, and other complex visual elements may reflow oddly. The EPUBs that we've made in house (starting in early 2011) have a more attractive design than older EPUB versions, as well as more of a "Take Control" look and feel. And, beginning with "Take Control of Your 802.11n AirPort Network, Third Edition" in May of 2012, we became even more adept with the EPUB format, and the EPUBs now look much like the PDFs, though they still flow like EPUBs.

Take Control Ebooks in the iBookstore

We make the Take Control series available in the iBookstore, where we hope they will find many readers who've never heard of the series before. We think that most regular Take Control customers will prefer to shop directly from us, because we can offer bundles and upgrade discounts, and inform them of any free upgrades. There is occasionally a lag time between when we publish an ebook and when the title is for sale in the iBookstore.

Reading a Take Control Ebook on a Kindle

Kindle Fire To learn about ebook readers and transferring files to a Kindle Fire, read Adam's TidBITS article, How to Download EPUB, PDF, and Mobipocket to the Kindle Fire.

Kindle 2 and Kindle DX

The Kindle 2 and DX support the PDF format, so you can move PDFs from your Mac to the Kindle via USB and read them without doing a conversion. We have tried this on the Kindle DX with the Take Control PDFs and the Macworld Superguide PDFs, and in both cases we think they look great! The Take Control PDFs use a fairly large type size, so they squish down to the Kindle DX's screen size in a wonderfully legible way (we don't have a Kindle 2 to check; our original Kindle still can't read PDFs without conversion). The Superguides use a smaller type size, so while they seem entirely readable to us, some older readers may disagree. Regrettably, in the PDFs, bookmarks do not appear on the Kindle DX and internal links and Web links do not work.

You can also use Amazon's Send to Kindle for Mac (PDFs only, at the moment), or Send to Kindle for PC.

Read the TidBITS article, Reading Take Control Ebooks on an iPad (or iPhone or iPod touch) to learn how to get Mobipocket versions of your Take Control ebooks and load them on your Kindle.

Kindle 1

You can follow the advice below to convert your PDF, but you'll get a better layout if you use the Mobipocket version of your ebook, as described in the TidBITS article, Reading Take Control Ebooks on an iPad (or iPhone or iPod touch).

You can convert any Take Control ebook PDF to the Kindle format with Amazon's email conversion service: log in to your Amazon.com account, follow the "Manage Your Kindle" link, and configure your Kindle email address. Once that's done, simply email the PDF as an attachment and Amazon will do the conversion. There is a small charge, and the pricing seems to be changing over time, but at present the cost is .15 cents per MB (most Take Control ebook PDFs are under 5 MB in size). Amazon has posted complete details on their Web site.

You can also use Amazon's Send to Kindle for Mac (PDFs only, at the moment), or Send to Kindle for PC.

Here's how the converted ebook looks and performs on the Kindle 1:

  • On the pro side, the PDF is reasonably legible and the graphics come through well, as do special characters and character-level formatting including bold, italics, and special type for Unix commands or text the reader should type.
  • The blue internal links that help with internal navigation don't work and the notion of a page is vague, so the page-number cross references are helpful but not exact. However, not being able to skip around might lead to reading more fully and linearly, thus gaining a deeper understanding of the topic.
  • Web URLs can't be "clicked" to open their Web pages (though even if they did, Web page display on the Kindle is poor). In particular, the Check for Updates button on the cover doesn't work.
  • Further problems fall in the realm of formatting: some covers convert poorly, heading formatting is sometimes wacky, tables are often unusable, and the formatting around small graphics is often odd.

Keep your PDF so you can access the Check for Updates Web page, since it may have interesting post-publication news or access to an updated PDF.

Take Control and TidBITS in the Kindle Store Through our partnership with O'Reilly Media, many older and all new ebooks going forward are available in the Kindle Store. However, if you are a regular Take Control customer, and if you want your Take Control ebooks integrated with your Take Control account, we suggest that you purchase them through us so that your ebook can be registered to you efficiently. Also, we are offering TidBITS (Mac and Internet news, reviews, and analysis) on the Kindle, so that readers can get some of our content natively on the Kindle and so we can become more adept with the Kindle's limited formatting options.

Reading a Take Control Ebook on a Nook

Although I've tried my teenage cousin's Nook briefly during a family party, I've yet to get one of my own and try the Take Control ebooks on it. In the last week of December 2010, I did get an interesting email message from Joseph G. about the Nook. Here's what he wrote:

"I'm a long time Take Control buyer/user, and I recently bought a Kindle. I loaded all my Take Control books onto it but the reading experience, being black-and-white, was not good. I returned the Kindle and bought a Barnes&Noble NookColor. I was able to load all my Take Control books on the nook with no problems, and the reading experience is now very good. I can have my Take Control ebooks with me all the time, in full color. Being that it is a PDF and not in the correct nook ebook format, the links don't work so if you could look into that and possibly make a nook version of your ebooks it would be greatly appreciated."

I suggested that Joseph try the EPUB versions of his Take Control ebooks, and he wrote back to say that the EPUB worked nicely and to share his interesting reasoning for purchasing the NookColor:

"The EPUB versions of the Take Control books work very well. The links work, and I'd recommend the NookColor as a great format for reading Take Control books. I know that there will probably be an explosion of tablet devices in the next few months but I took a chance on the NookColor because it seems to fit well in the "gap" between my iMac and 13" MacBook Pro. Rather than get a more expensive tablet like the iPad or Samsung Galaxy (both over $500) I chose cost as one factor among others. The NookColor is $240, is a touchscreen device, color (big advantage over the Kindle), can connect to my Macs via USB, and has the connection to Barnes&Noble. While in any Barnes&Noble, I can connect to their WiFi and read any book in the store up to an hour a day. I can put Word documents on it, pictures, play games (just a few), and surf the web. The OS is Android so I'm hoping since Android can do a lot more than is now available on the Nook, that it's Android capabilities will be upgraded, but it is still mainly a book reader."