Loading EPUB Files into Reading Systems

We encourage you to load your EPUB files into all of the reading systems you are targeting. In the guide below you will find instructions on loading EPUB files into various readers, including special instructions on viewing fixed layout files. We will also share some thoughts on loading eBook files into Kindle devices.


EPUB is the industry standard eBook format, so it is supported in many devices and software applications (collectively known as "reading systems"). Reviewing and testing your EPUB file is an important process, and we highly recommend you look at the file on the actual devices sold by your target retailers, not just in emulators or desktop apps. This allows you to see what your readers will see when they purchase your eBook.

In iBooks on an iPad

If you have an Apple iPad, you can view your EPUB file in a variety of apps, but the most important app is Apple's iBooks. If you do not have iBooks installed on your iPad you can download it for free from the iTunes App Store. Once iBooks is installed, you can log into your FlightDeck account in Safari on your iPad and download the EPUB file directly to iBooks from there. Alternatively, you can plug your iPad into your computer and add the EPUB to iBooks using iTunes in one of two ways: 1) choose File > Add to Library, or 2) drag the EPUB file to the Books list under On This iPad.

Some eBook developers use Dropbox as a temporary location for EPUB files, and load them into iBooks (and other devices) from their Dropbox account.

NOOK, Kobo, and Google

The eReaders and tablets sold by B&N and Kobo allow you to sideload an EPUB file directly to the device by connecting it to your computer and copying the file into a folder. In general, this process will involve the following steps (or something similar):

If you want to test files in Google Play Books, you can use their handy file transfer option.

On a computer

If you do not have a mobile device, you can use one of a few programs on your computer to view an EPUB file.

If you are running the latest version of OS X (Mavericks), the best program to use for reviewing your EPUB is iBooks for Mac. This desktop version of iBooks comes pre-installed in OS X Mavericks, so there is no need to install it separately.

For other computers, the most up-to-date program, and the one we recommend you use for your previewing, is the Readium plugin for Chrome. You must have the Chrome browser installed in order to use Readium.

The most common program people use when looking at EPUB files on a computer is Adobe Digital Editions (ADE). ADE does not have very good support for newer EPUB features and formatting, so you may not see the same thing in ADE as you do in better reading systems like iBooks and Readium. To install the ADE software on your computer, visit the ADE website, then download and install the program. When the program opens you can choose to register it with an Adobe account, or you can leave it unregistered. To open your EPUB file, you can either double click on the file (ADE installs as the default EPUB reading program on your computer) or click on the Library dropdown and select Add Item to Library.

On other devices

On other devices (such as Android tablets), we recommend installing and using applications from the major retailers you are targeting. This is usually the same process described above.

Fixed Layout eBooks

Fixed layout eBooks (whether children's or other types) can only be viewed in specific reading systems. Trying to load a fixed layout title in other reading systems will not show you the proper formatting your readers will see when they buy the eBook. Here are the devices/apps you should use for each retailer:

Kindle Files

While Amazon's Kindle Format 8 (KF8) is similar in many ways to EPUB, the two formats are not exactly the same. That being said, many publishers choose to create an EPUB file that can be converted to KF8 so that they do not have to handle and track multiple files. For an overview of issues to watch out for in this development process, please see our Handbook entry on Converting EPUB to KF8.

Personal Documents Service

One easy method for getting an EPUB or KF8 file loaded onto your Kindle devices is using Amazon's Kindle Personal Documents Service. The Personal Documents Service actually runs files through KindleGen, the KF8 conversion tool, so you can get away with loading an EPUB directly into the service. Once a file is uploaded through the service, it is made available in your Cloud library on any Kindle device registered to your account.

Kindle Previewer

If you do not have a Kindle device, you can use your computer to review your Kindle file. While Amazon does have Kindle applications for the PC and Mac, the best program to use is Kindle Previewer. This application is provided by Amazon expressly for the purpose of reviewing Kindle eBooks, and it does a good job of emulating how the file will look on all of the Kindle devices and apps. To install this tool on your PC or Mac computer, follow these steps:

  1. If you've not done so already, download and install Kindle Previewer:
    • Go to this web page.
    • Check off the box to accept the terms of use.
    • Download the correct installation program to your computer.
    • Follow the instructions to install the software.
  2. Once the program is installed, open it (it will be in your Programs/Applications list).
  3. Open a Kindle or EPUB file by dragging and dropping it into the open program window or by using the Open option on the Kindle Previewer home screen. Kindle Previewer also uses the KindleGen tool to convert EPUB files automatically.
  4. The controls and menus at the top of the program window allow you to turn pages, skip to chapters, change the font size, and switch which device you are emulating. The most important devices to test on are the Paperwhite and the Fire.

KDP Previewer: Please note that the Preview option on Amazon's KDP platform does not do as good a job of showing you what your eBook actually looks like as Kindle Previewer does. We do not recommend using the online previewer program for eBook QA.

Kindle for iPad App

The Kindle for iPad application does allow sideloading files for testing, but you have to load the file in a very specific way.

  1. Before you begin, you must check the version number of Kindle for iPad. You will find the version number in the app under Settings > Other > About. You must have version 3.9.2 or later installed in order to follow this process.
  2. You also need to have the latest version of Kindle Previewer installed on your computer (2.91 or later).
  3. Open your KF8 or EPUB file in Kindle Previewer.
  4. Under the Devices menu, choose Kindle for iOS.
  5. Kindle Previewer will open a dialog saying that it is converting your file to the .azk format.
  6. When the process is complete, you will see the new .azk file in the same folder as your .mobi (or use the link in the pop-up to find it).
  7. Open iTunes, connect your iPad to your computer, and navigate to the iPad summary page in iTunes.
  8. Click on the Apps tab at the top of the iTunes window, the scroll down on the screen (under the apps list) until you see the File Sharing section.
  9. Select Kindle from the list, the either drop your .azk file into the list on the right or click the Add button and add it that way.
  10. Once you have completed that process, the book should show up in your library in the Kindle for iPad app.

Please note that the Kindle for iPad app has many limitations and bugs that are not fixable in the Kindle file. Kindle Previewer and actual Kindle devices are the primary locations you should test your Kindle file. If something looks different in the iPad app than it does in those other locations it is almost guaranteed to be a limitation of the app, not the eBook.

Also, please note that the .azk file is only for testing purposes. You should always deliver the converted .mobi file or your master EPUB file to Amazon for sale.

Kindle Devices

Note that the instructions below assume you have a .mobi file to test. EPUB is not natively supported in Kindle devices, so you cannot just copy an EPUB into the right folder. You must convert the file first, either with KindleGen or Kindle Previewer. Don't forget to look at our suggestions for EPUB to KF8 conversions.

As with the NOOK and Kobo devices, Kindle eReaders and tablets allow you to sideload files directly onto the device. Here are the standard steps required:

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